12 November 2014

New Scientist and the future: old stuff is precious

Yesterday was a happy old day. Quite illegally, I took the children out of school and we charged across the countryside to join my mother on her 77th birthday. We didn't want her to spend it alone, and she seemed pretty chuffed.

The four of us walked down to a cafe, Lynne's Kitchen, that has opened up in a block of shops that was there when I was growing up. I'd huff and puff past it on my ten speed bike on the way to and from school. In those days there were definitely not things like cafes in blocks of shops! There were fish and chip shops, dairies, hairdressers and bike shops - and maybe a butcher, pharmacy, doctor or post office in more major 'blocks'.

The old theme continued. The cafe was staffed by women of a grandmotherly age, who were about the most charming and friendly people you could ever find in such a place. Furthermore, the cups and saucers were beautiful old china. The lady at the till told me that people come from quite some distance just to use the old crockery! (I suspect she is too modest, and her charm, the lovely food and reasonable prices have a lot to do with it too.)

I'm always singing the praises of old, especially when it comes to homeware. I got a thrill recently when New Scientist magazine mentioned that particular love of mine. They predicted that 3D printers will one day give us anything we want, from electronics and building supplies to food and synthetic organs, all at the touch of a button. (Fortunately these things will made out of used materials.)

"We may also come to value old things over the new, as antiques become increasingly rare in a world of super-efficient recycling," the article states. They also predict that even as these changes seem to separate us ever more from nature, we'll want it more and more, and 'rewilding' and 'de-extinction' will become prominent. Hey, that's three loves in one place - old stuff, science and nature! (Although for me the line between science and nature barely exists - science is just about finding out more about nature in an objective manner.)

The customers at Lynne's Kitchen and I are already heading down the route of valuing old things over new. Bring it on, I say - maybe I'll make my fortune with the old things I've collected!

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