Saturday, August 14, 2010

Roof Roof

Brave New World

I can't get into the lifts at the Norfolk and Norwich without saying silently to myself, “Roof, Roof.”

Sometimes I say it aloud if there is no-one with me and the doors are closed.

I'm remembering the phrase in Huxley's Brave New World where the lift reaches the top and the Epsilon minus Sub Moron opens the door and says in awe, “Roof, Roof” and the last “Roof” is measured in ecstasy.

Now-a-days we have canned voices instead of Epsilon minus Sub Morons, but the effect is the same. When the metallic voice says, “Going up” it is mimicking Huxley and commenting, no matter how incapable of thought, on the futility of man and his machines. Huxley would surely approve.

Lifts, or elevators, can be funny things. At the N&N we have two lifts side by side just outside the ward. Strangely, they don't act the same, as you might expect from inanimate objects. They have, instead, minds of their own. The one on the right (as you face them) is much quicker than the other one. It even responds to the buttons on the control panel. You can get in, hit the door close button and the floor required, and it speeds off in the correct direction – without so much as a “Roof, Roof”.

The one on the left, by contrast does none of these things. You press the buttons and it just sits there as if it is saying, “Sod off, I ain't ready!” Eventually it goes, when it gets good and ready. It also makes mistakes. These can be quite disconcerting.

You get in. You press the button for floor three. It eventually goes, but (and I have heard and seen this, honest) when it gets to the third floor, the voices says, “Second Floor!”


I didn't like the lifts at the Sears Tower in Chicago. They have an express lift that takes you to the 88th floor in about 30 seconds. And, there is no real sense of acceleration. I'm thinking Twilight Zone.

Oh, Brave New World!

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