Last Friday afternoon, I was driving along glorious country lanes. It was amazing weather, we were on the way to a favourite campsite and we were singing along to All Request Friday on Radio 2. But just as I was looking out for the last turning, my phone pinged and the news about a gunman in Munich flashed up. Instantly, the mood in the car felt different. I mean, the kids didn't know and I carried on. But it felt like world events had once again taken a bit of the pleasure out of everyday life. You are imagining the scenes, thinking how those people must feel.
I am all for modern technologies. I can see the endless reasons why instant news/contact/banking etc are advantages our ancestors did not have but still... Is it really good for us to live with 'news' infringing at every opportunity?
We lurch from awful news story to awful news story on these twenty four hour channels and on the endless news websites. I watch and read these as much as anyone. But I just wonder if our ancestors were happier when they didn't know what was going on? The worldwide wars, the Crusades, the natural disasters, the plagues all made little ripple in everyday people's lives until ages after events. Unless they were unlucky enough to live in those areas.
Our twenty first century expectation, on the other hand, is to know what is happening everywhere, all the time. As another less serious example, going on holiday to a new hotel or cottage used to be mostly guesswork. You were lucky to even see a couple of pictures before you got there - and those would be taken from the most advantageous angle. Now, we expect to have taken a video tour, read fifty reviews on Trip Advisor and looked at the area on Google Earth before we even set off.
There are few such happy places as a British campsite on a fine summer night. A constant burble of chat, jokes and laughter interspersed with cheers from endless cricket and rounders matches. And all the better - with no offence to anyone affected by this weekends' news stories - for the lack of 4G or television or even a newspaper shop. Just for a little while, it is still possible to step off the news treadmill.