Original Is Best… Or Is It?

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Original Is Best… Or Is It?

Isn’t it funny how things go full-circle.

The original, simplest versions are frequently the most enduring. Other things come into fashion and then fade away. Original is best.

Take watches for instance.

I remember when a boy (Dale Autey was his name) created a mass of excitement in our junior school when he brought in the first digital watch any of us had ever seen. It was one of those original LED jobbies… where you had to press the button to see the time in red numerals… no alarm or stopwatch or anything like that… it just told the time.

Just imagine it… 30 (they didn’t seem to bother much about class sizes back then… and teaching assistants hadn’t even been invented as a concept) of us sidling up to Dale almost begging him to allow us to press the button to see the time in red.

Dale’s Pulling Machine!
Image source: https://bit.ly/2CCpTAZ

But the rise of those watches were short lived… swiftly to be replaced by the LCD versions which became so ubiquitous.

Initially they just told the time, the only addition to spice things up was a backlight.

Then they added an alarm, a stopwatch (did you used to play the game where you had to try to stop the stopwatch EXACTLY on 10 seconds too? It was the precursor to the “stop the petrol pump exactly on £10.00… oh rats, £10.02…. I’ll put £15.00 in today…. £15.02…. drat and double drat (as Dick Dastardly would have said)… except you can’t pay that game on the toilet (my favourite location for the stopwatch game as a teenager!)

Oh it had a lap timer too. Did anyone ever use a lap timer?

As time progressed and Casio came to dominate the genre they added in pretty well everything you could think of and that you didn’t really need… fully functioning calculator, World time in a gazillion cities, databank… I’m sure some had/have thermometers, altimeters, games, personal organisers… you name it.

The Ultimate Casio “
cram-the-functions-in-watch”?
Image Source: https://bit.ly/325kWcU

Oh… and the bain of our teachers’ lives… the hourly chime. After all, as the manufacturers clearly reasoned, how could anyone function in the 1980s without knowing exactly when the hour struck.

Digital watches were taking over the World. The traditional watch with hands was dead.

Except it wasn’t. And until a few years ago pretty well everyone had reverted good old-fashioned, traditional watches… with an occasional fashion flurry of digital watches rearing their retro heads every once in a while.

Now there are “smart” watches popping up. Like Dale Autey’s watch on steroids…

Bet they go the same way as their LCD predecessors… but only after they’ve made Apple, Samsung et al a shedload of money…

Not entirely unrelated, are you, like me, fighting the mobile phone fight?

I really like what my phone offers… I can send messages, read books, navigate… even make phone calls! There’s pretty well nothing I can’t to on it if I want to.

But it’s like having a stalker… knowing exactly where I’ve been and when… asking me to review places I haven’t even asked it to direct me to (it just knows I’ve been there). It’s getting completely out of hand… and it seems to get worse every day.

Maybe it’s me just getting old… but I don’t like it.

I need to get a non smart-phone.

…once I’ve worked out how I’ll find the quickest route without resorting to physical road maps anyway.

Do you think that the “smart” in smart-phone and smart-watch is just clever marketing… brainwashing us into believing that these things are there to help us?

Want to know what made me start thinking about this “original is best” loop? I was looking at my favourite writing implement… the humble wooden pencil.

At infant school when we used wooden pencils the next step up was the Pop-A-Point pencil. Remember them?

I remember having one where each of the modules (I’m not sure what the proper Pop-A-Point terminology was for the plastic bits that held the leads) was a different colour. It was very useful as a compact colouring tool… but the colour I wanted was generally in the furthest position to retrieve. I soon fell out of love with that pencil as a result.

A Classic Pop-a-Point Pencil
Image Source: https://bit.ly/2WzS4bI

Propelling pencils then took centre stage. The ones with very fine leads… about 0.5mm from memory. Leads that broke incredibly easily… or for me they did anyway! (I know that you can still get these but their star seems to have waned a bit… except, I would think, in the circles where an ultra-fine, ultra precise pencil is required..)

For me, the best pencil is wooden one. Simple, efficient, perfect. Without the rubber on the end. Why? Because they seem to make those rubbers out of special “do not rub out but smear the writing and end up ripping the paper” rubber. They are, surely, the rubbishest rubbers in the World!

What is it about using a wooden pencil just after it has been sharpened? It’s one of life’s little joys. That crisp, sharpness of the pointiest point…

And it comes with the added bonus of the fresh woody just-sharpened smell too… which, for me, is almost as good as freshly mown grass.

It’s the simple things… Do you agree?

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