Five Years Ago
Cackpot, lambass and codwhistle were among the unusual ancient instruments featured by members of Ye Swains' Consortte in a charity performance of Earlie Musicke at St Frideswide's that, all present agreed, sounded frankly awful. A small sum was raised towards the funding of an auditory loop system for the hard of hearing. Several members of the audience left in the course of the concert and two were taken out for medical attention.
Fifty Years Ago
Government instructions on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack came in handy for 30 members of an East Anglian Women's Institute gathered in the crouch position beneath a makeshift array of village-hall tables and chairs at Tick Fen. Events took an unexpected turn at the monthly meeting of the WI, as Doreen Glazey, features editor of Better Housewife, was delivering a talk and demonstration on '101 Ways with Your New Pressure-Cooker'. A faulty cooker-valve was later identified as cause of the incident. In her closing thanks, Acting Chair Glad Whaplode paid special tribute to members of the Bomb Disposal Squad based in Colchester for their words of reassurance and assistance over the phone in the 25 minutes it took for emergency services to arrive.
One Hundred Years Ago
A new kind of magical slate drew considerable interest at a specially convened session of IF, the Inventors' Forum, in Birmingham. Boasting auto-delete and a self-writing function, the device would, in the words of its inventor, Horace Thrumb, soon be standard issue in all schools throughout Britain and the Empire.
Seeking to replace current systems (the universally adopted practice of spit-and-wipe-with-sleeve) with new technology, the Thrumbpad combined use of a foot-operated stirrup pump with a small well of water concealed in the base of the desk to produce a spray of fine droplets aimed over the used surface. An ingenious arrangement of cogs and pulleys then enabled the user to manoeuvre a small sponge over the pad by turning a brass handle at the side of the desk. By removing the sponge from its holder, replacing with a pocket pencil and switching two small levers on the gearing, the user could then be guided by science to draw simple shapes, such as circles and squares. In years to come, this would be developed into a full handwriting facility.
In further questioning, Thrumb conceded that there was still work to be done on the tooth-jangling squeak produced by the pencil in drawing mode, but reacted angrily to the suggestion made by a representative of the Cuffmakers' Guild that his desk sprinkler system would simply lead to mass water-pistol fights in every classroom in the land.