Amid all the hoo-ha about the announcement of the HS2 rail link this week, what seems to have passed people by is the sheer length of time it will take to build.
Even assuming it all goes as planned and on schedule (a big if) there won’t be any trains running on it until 2030 which in technology terms is light years away.
Dynamic Dave Cameron says this modern transport system will forge a new era of prosperity for the country, but anything could have happened with technology by then.
By the time the first Virgin high-speed special is lumbering along the rails, we’ll be nipping down to the shops in a jet-pack, commuting to work in our flying cars and teleporting to Mars for our holidays.
But why does everything take so long to build these days? The Victorians wouldn’t have faffed about like that. After deciding that the Rocket was a good idea they’d knocked off an entire national rail network in ten years.
It must have been amazing to be alive in such a can-do time with the likes of Brunel knocking off engineering wonders in his lunch hour and gardeners building mammoth greenhouses just because they fancied the challenge.
Of course living in the Victoria era had its downsides. Social revolution, grinding poverty, pollution and disease to name just a few, but by far the worst were the whiskers. We were a nation of pogonophiles back then and luxuriant facial furniture was an absolute must, especially if you were a man.
From the likes of Charles Darwin and W G Grace with their flowing chest length beards to Gladstone and his great mutton chop sideburns, you wouldn’t be taken seriously unless you looked like you hadn’t seen a razor for a year. And I’d be rubbish at that.
On the rare occasions when I’ve tried to grow a beard or hair on my top lip I’ve failed. It has usually when I’ve been on holiday and I fool myself that two weeks will be long enough to get a decent growth before I go back to work, but try as I might, I just end up looking like a scruff or a Big Issue seller.
But 21st century technology has done what the Victorians couldn’t for all their ingenuity. I give you the Beardo, as pictured above, a Canadian invention that allows you to look macho with none of the inconvenience, and it keeps your chin warm in winter too.