WE’VE PAINTED OURSELVES INTO A DARK CORNER
EXPERTS have predicted that most of us will soon be driving electric vehicles, which are cheaper to run and kinder to the environment than petrol or diesel-powered cars.
This will, of course, mean that we will have to have re-charging stations instead of petrol pumps.
This, in turn, raises the horrible thought that our travel and transport will depend entirely on Eskom.
It’s scary enough to think that the clever chaps who provide the power can shut down whole suburbs at the flick of a switch, but imagine the chaos when the city’s streets are clogged with dead vehicles that have run out of battery power.
In my father’s time, electricity was just a useful novelty. Eskom’s rolling blackouts would have made very little difference to his life.
Stupidly, we have ignored one of the wise old sayings in our language.
We have “put all our eggs in one basket”. Almost everything we do from the moment we wake up depends on electricity.
We awake to the sound of an electronic alarm clock, wash our faces in electrically heated water before drinking electrically warmed coffee and spreading electrically cooled butter on our electrically toasted bread.
Our garage door slides open electrically and we drive out through our remote controlled electric front gates, through an electrically controlled traffic system to reach our electrically air conditioned workplace where we spend the day tapping electronic keyboards to move electronic funds from one electronic account to another.
Need I go further?
In my father’s day, we heated things by lighting a fire. We opened doors and gates by hand.
We wound our alarm clocks before retiring to bed. We brushed teeth and shaved manually.
When electricity arrived, each town had its own power station run by a man who knew how it worked.
I knew the man who installed the entire electricity network in our Karoo town of Middelburg.
He had won a Rhodes scholarship when he left school in 1907 and went to Oxford where he studied electrical engineering. He knew every inch of the town’s wiring and could fix it if it went wrong.
Nobody cared what political party he supported. He was employed to keep the lights on, not to suck up to politicians.
Then we started packing all our fragile eggs into a rickety basket labelled “Eskom”.
We fired all the people who knew how generators worked and replaced them with politicians who voted for the right party. (I wonder how many members of the Eskom board know how to service a generator. Or even know what a generator looks like.)
Now we are carrying all our cracked eggs in one basket, tottering towards what promises to be a dark future. Last Laugh
A seasick passenger was hanging over the deck railing of the cruise ship and looking very green.
His sympathetic wife came up and said: “George, would you like me to ask the steward to bring your supper up here so you can eat it in the fresh air?”
“No,” groaned the ill man, “just ask him to bring it here and toss it straight over the rail into the sea and save me the trouble.”