BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

© John Denney 29 September 2004

 

PRESENTER

We have in the studio this morning the world’s oldest man.  I understand you fell asleep exactly 100 years ago and you’ve only just woken up.

W.O.M.

Indeed.

PRESENTER

What changes have you noticed, now that you’ve had a chance to catch up?

W.O.M.

Well, when I fell asleep there was no radio, and no television, let alone colour television with stereo sound.  Or video recorders or DVD players.  Virtually no one had electricity in their homes, so there were no vacuum cleaners, no washing machines, no electric lights even.  Only the very richest people had telephones.

Hardly anyone without a title had a motor car or even a motorbike.  Mind you, they didn’t have a horse either, unless they were a milkman, coal man or rag and bone man.  The Wright brothers had managed to take off in their little aeroplane, but the idea of jetting off for a foreign holiday was unthinkable.

Only women from the lowest classes went out to work, and that was mainly as maids and cooks for the gentry.  Women certainly couldn’t be trusted with the vote, and only a few got to go to university and enter the professions.

Most people didn’t have an inside toilet in their homes, or central heating.  Medicine was in its infancy.  There were no antibiotics; modern surgery under anaesthetic was only just being developed; and people still died from measles and diphtheria and polio and scarlet fever and smallpox and tuberculosis and many diseases that we hardly ever see today.

PRESENTER

So it’s all good news, then?

W.O.M.

Well, materially, we’re all vastly better off than a hundred years ago.  We’re healthier and better nourished, and we have much more choice over our lives than any previous generation.  But...

PRESENTER

Ah.  So there’s a “but”?

W.O.M.

Yes.  You used to be able to go out and leave your door unlocked.  If you fell on hard times, your neighbours would rally round and share what little they had with you.  Rich people used their wealth to set up hospitals and libraries and churches and housing estates.  There was much more a sense of community than there is now.  People cared for their neighbours.

PRESENTER

So, are there lessons for us in the 21st Century to learn?

W.O.M.

Oh yes.  2000 years ago, Jesus told a story[1] about a man who was mugged and left badly hurt by the roadside.  The person who stopped and helped him wasn’t one of his own people, not even the local vicar.  It was a total stranger who gave him first aid, and paid for his medical treatment.  What Jesus was saying was that everyone is the neighbour we should care for.

PRESENTER

Thanks for that.  Ladies and gentleman – the world’s oldest man!

SFX

Mobile Phone rings

W.O.M.

(Fading out)  Yo, dude!  No, I’m in a radio studio.  At Radio Leicester.  Safe!

 

Home                                                   More Thoughts



[1] The parable of the Good Samaritan.  Luke 10:25-37