WE’VE PAINTED OUR­SELVES INTO A DARK COR­NER

Cape Argus - - METRO - DAVID BIGGS [email protected]

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.”

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