How about this for a job description?
Once every evening in Summer and twice in Winter, to climb all 54 steps leading up to the very top of a lighthouse. Once there, manually
to haul up a 28 pound weight which, once released, will travel slowly downwards, thereby rotating the lighthouse lamps for the benefit of unwary sailors out at sea. As Mr B would say: blow that for a game of soldiers.
We are spending the morning at the oldest house in Southwick, the 500 year old Manor Cottage. The building houses all manner of historical treasures - like the rotating light from the old Shoreham Lighthouse - and we are here with our Merry Band of
Questers for a "behind the scenes" tour. The Vice Chairman of the Southwick Heritage Association says he has never heard of a Quester before but that it seems like a Very Good Idea. He is struck by just how many of us have turned up - 27 in all - and supposes
that, unlike the school-children who regularly come on such visits, we won't want to sit on the floor, cross-legged, while he takes us through the historical background. There is a lot of shaking of heads, indicating that he supposes correctly.
In an upstairs room, an exhibition devoted to the old schools of Southwick - all eight of them. Two beautiful old desks, complete with china ink-wells. I remember the shocking responsibility of being Ink Monitor, with
its attendant dangers of inky fingers and ink-scattered clothes which would make even my mild-mannered mother throw up her hands in horror. An exercise book with page after page of beautifully written mathematical equations. A school tunic on a dressmaker's
dummy. Lots of charming black and white photos of school children from a past age engaged in sports days, school assemblies and May Day celebrations. I wonder what today's children make of them?
again and I'm in the World War Two kitchen, complete with tin bath secured on a wall above the built in copper. A poster on the wall exhorts us to: "Save Our Sixpences" for the war effort. Look after the pennies, my Mum used to say, and the pounds will take
care of themselves. There's a sewing machine not unlike the one lurking in our under-the-stairs cupboard, a toasting fork hanging up by the fire. There are rag rugs on the floors and tins of Ronux floor polish and Cardinal tile polish on a shelf above the
In a hundred years, the Questers of 2015 will gather at our house to experience for themselves what it was like to live in the Dark Ages. In the kitchen they will marvel at the strange domestic appliances
we needed. Did the folk of 2015 really boil water in kettles? Fancy having to wash clothes in the quaintly named washing machine - disposable clothes were a Thing of the Future.
There will be photographs on
the walls of the living room, depicting Mr B and me in our prime. Look at the clothes they are wearing! the Questers of the Future will exclaim. Look at their hair-dos! The TV will come in for particular scrutiny. Only 42 inches, how teeny tiny compared with
the 360 degree screens commonplace in the homes of 2115. And don't you just love the ancient car outside - people used to have to drive them themselves, don't you know? That's what that driving wheel was for and the old-fashioned engine under the bonnet. However
did they manage to travel such distances without the aid of computers? No wonder they had so many accidents in The Olden Days.
Look at the computers they used to use! They actually had machines which
they had to plug in and turn on. Would you believe they had to use their fingers to type words or touch the screen? What would those poor technologically challenged folk of 2015 make of Thought Transference and computers inserted under the skin?
Oh, dear me, I am scaring myself. I think I feel more comfortable in the Second World War kitchen than in the unknown home of the future.
Next month's Questers'
visits include two trips to the local library to pore over the maps of Old Worthing. I have already organised two such trips but Sweet Sue in the Local Studies section says she will be happy to welcome another two groups of Inquisitive Questers. We will delve
into the past and wonder over How Things Have Changed.
Much as I love exploring the past and speculating on the future, there's nothing quite so satisfyingly familiar as the here and now. Today is, indeed,
That's why they call it The Present.