Sunday, 8 June 2008

The Telectroscope

Yesterday I tried to explain to my Mum what the Telectroscope is all about. She had been away when it hit the headlines but I assumed she had seen something about it in a newspaper or on the news. The conversation went something like this:
Mum - “What did you do in London last week?”
Me – “Oh, I saw that Telectroscope thing”
Mum – “That Telec what?”
Me – “You know, that Victorian thing where you can wave to people in New York”
Mum – “I have no idea what you are talking about… do you want a drink?”

And that was that! A couple of martinis later and I attempted a full explanation of how the Telectroscope works. As I explained about the tunnel that had finally been completed between London and New York and how, with the help of many mirrors and a little bit of magic, we were able to silently communicate with our friends across the pond my Mum did not look impressed. I told her how a Victorian inventor had started it but had gone mad and never finished so his great grandson had re-started the tunnel project and finished it more or less single handed. At this point she started nodding slowly – just as she has done when I was telling wild stories as a kid. She wasn’t convinced.

Frankly, I was pitching my story to the wrong audience. Had I told one of my young nephews about the Telectroscope they would have been enthralled by the tale of extraordinary engineering feats resulting in a huge tunnel going all the way from here to there. They would have loved the idea of such a wacky invention and insisted on going straight to London to make faces and do silly dances for their American counterparts! Unfortunately for me, none of the said nephews were on hand to impress and enchant so I spoke no more about the Telectroscope.

However, this morning I spoke to my 13 year old nephew on the phone. He has just started shaving. He is at that awkward stage – he is cocky but still wants a cuddle; he knows it all but has it all to learn. I decided to tell him about the Telectroscope and ask if he wanted to go and visit it next weekend before it disappeared as quickly as it arrived. He listened silently while I described the contraption and explained about the tunnel. He started laughing. Then he responded very slowly and deliberately as though I was some kind of idiot: “There… isn’t… a… tunnel. There…are…no…mirrors. It…is…a…webcam…”
“You don’t want to see it then” I replied. “No thanks” he said. What does he know? He’s only a kid!

But if you want to see it and wave or write notes to visitors at the Brooklyn Bridge then get yourself along to the Scoop, by City Hall. If your children haven’t reached the cynical (or knowledgeable) stage, they will love this magic tunnel with its madcap machine. In London we are charged just £1 for a few minutes of silent interaction (though annoyingly, in New York they get their fun for free).
If your kids ask who Tiscali is then tell them he helped dig the long tunnel under the Atlantic!

The Telectroscope will be there until next Sunday (15th) and is open 24 hours a day.


Descartes said...

Well, color me easily impressed-what a cool idea. I have always been a big fan of all kinds of nonsense science-I, too, would like a Tardis to help with pesky traffic issues-and this mad idea of a tunnel from New York to London-I love it.

It only took one visit to London for me to realize that every city in the world needs a Tube-if only for the Way In and Way Out signs.

Sparkly Songbird said...

I went by the site of the Telectroscope last week on a Thames river cruise and am sad to report that it has now disappeared! Tis a shame as I'm sure it brought a lot of pleasure to people on both sides of the pond.