A problem for the railways in the future? In the piece on transport in the 30s, I wrote of the sounds of the rails when travelling by train before they were all welded, and the trains started to move more silently. After writing it I thought back to the 60s, when I was designing the structure of a building consisting of a series of shops and flats. To support the flats and make a basis for that part of the structure I had a lintel running the full-length of the shops. It was therefore necessary that I calculate the degree of expansion of the lintel under extremes of heat. The end result was that the degree of expansion that I had to design for was such that I had to put in expansion joints or the whole thing would have cracked open. And this made me realise that with the miles of welded track that we have in Britain today, and the increasing temperatures that we are likely to face and indeed are facing, on long stretches of straight track where the expansion can’t be taken up by a slight increase in the radius of a bend, there could be serious problems.
Packaging and Instructions. There is a steep slope from the back of our house to the road, and the other day, I had to drag a three-quarter full dustbin of the type now used, up to the pavement for disposal, and it was some drag. This made me think back not all that many years, when we had a little round dustbin, which was emptied every week and never really full unless with garden rubbish. It was then that I realised what so many people have today, the tremendous waste and also expense generated by packaging. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a theory that if you do not touch bread or cheese by hand, or put them on a contaminated board, they will stay fresh, without mould for some considerable time, proving that no matter how clean you may be and how careful you are, you actually do pick up contamination as you work in the kitchen. With this theory in mind, I still believe that the level of wrapping and boxing that we have today has nothing to do with hygiene, but to do with sales.
Where I put out a small bin once a week, I now put out the equivalent of three huge bins once a fortnight, or 1 1/2 bins a week. When you buy anything of a technical nature, it is thoroughly boxed, protected and packaged, with plastic bags, polystyrene blocks, inner and outer boxes, but strangely the instructions for use are now written so small they need a magnifying glass to read them. In the case of items for the computer, they are always accompanied by a CD, packaged in a box 6 times too large, and the instructions are not even on the CD in some cases, you have to make reference to the Internet, presupposing broadband is functioning. There is in the box a tiny, and I mean tiny little booklet of instructions, so meagre it is practically lost in the hand, and so finely written than an old devil of 80 has to scan it page by page, and enlarge it before it can be read. Surely this is all a tremendous waste of time, money and materials. This business of hygiene is now taken to its limits, goaded by RMSA, and in consequence packaging of everything, has reached an absurd pinnacle, and those in control, screaming about the environment and landfill, should realise the absurdity.