iPhone 1, Quills 0; Lord Nelson tweets to victory

Posted on by Mike Evans

Earlier this week I visited my bank to discuss pensions, as one does at my time of life. My pensions manager arrived complete with iPhone and an instantly recognisable geek-exuding Westfield Designs briefcase. I know him to be a great Mac enthusiast and, indeed, it was his suggestion a couple of seasons ago that I try DevonTHINK Pro and move towards the paperless office. We spent considerable time discussing GTD applications and just squeezed in an update on the flagging (and flogged) pension fund.

All this new technology is the more impressive in the venerable surroundings of the bank. You see, it's a very traditional and rather grand place but it now combines history with modern ways of working. I remember thinking, 47 years ago when I opened my first account, that Charles Dickens would have been at home there. Actually, he was, because he is indeed a former customer.  The banking hall was all oak and brass and the clerks sat at very high desks on very high stools and had inkwells full of very real ink. No doubt there was an Ink Monitor lurking backstage with a quart dispenser (not yet metrified), ready to wage war on the upstart and verboten ballpens wherever they might be traced. 

It's as well they did have the ink because they were still writing with 19th century quill pens and had to take care not to get stains on their impressive black frock coats and pinstripe trousers (they were all men, of course, and women were then kept mosque-like behind a screen). Nowadays, these outfits are worn only at weddings and the quills have been passed to the in-house museum, along with Mr. Dickens' club subscription instructions, Lord Nelson's billets-doux and the Prince Regent's standing order in favour of Mrs. Fitzherbert (" until countermanded in writing, George P..."). We've now moved on to Macs and iPhones (I've stuck that in because we are getting a bit off-subject here). 

Just think: The Lord High Admiral could have Tweeted instead of fumbling with all those flags. Undoubtedly, though, history would have been the poorer for it. England expects my ramblings will never appear in the museum.

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