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Fanfare of trumpets, a roll on the drums….. I had to post a letter today. A full and frank confession that I had indeed put the denizens of Warrington at risk by driving at 46mph on a 40mph dual carriageway to be precise.

Apart from the sudden realisation that I am a dangerous desperado and a menace on the Queen’s highway, the process flagged up two other things. First, that my handwriting is atrocious as I struggled to fill in the form. It wasn’t great to start with, but since all my ‘writing’ these days is almost exclusively by keyboard it has totally gone to pot.

No doubt the same will happen to my signature now that everything is chip and pin. It is pretty well illegible now, so who knows what will happen as I get more and more out of practice. Here’s a tale to prove my point: some years I go I was paying by card at the supermarket accompanied by Master P. As we left the checkout, my son whispered, “Dad, why did you scribble on that lady’s paper?”

But I digress. The second thing that today’s simple act drove home is that I hadn’t a clue how much a stamp would cost. Again, I hardly ever post anything to anyone these days and am entirely reliant on electronic mail. Checking my change, I wondered to myself. “Is 30p enough?” It wasn’t.

Not that long ago, I would have instinctively known the price of first and second-class stamps. Now I’m not even sure if there is a second class post. Which makes you wonder how the Royal Mail makes its money. Obviously they don’t or they wouldn’t have a £2.5 billion pensions crisis.

My point is that we live in a rapidly changing world that we take for granted and we don’t think about it until a simple act brings it home. We take things at face value and now and then we need a reality check to remind us that things aren’t always the boon they seem. Like Wikipedia.

Now I know and you know that anyone can and does contribute articles to this very worthy and well-meaning project and though sometimes I tell myself that the author may not be the expert they seem and that I should double-check their facts, most of the time I don’t. Which is why this article in the Guardian is worth reading. You just can’t trust anyone, eh?

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2 comments… Add yours
  • Sturat 25th October 2005

    I can't help thinking these kind of articles become recursive. After all, who is to say how authoritative the people the Guardian used to review Wikipedia are?

  • Shooting Parrots 25th October 2005

    You're right, of course. Who watches the watchers, eh?


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