Over the past few weeks, more than just a few unsettling events have been happening to some of my colleagues in the publishing world. Certain members of the third estate have been unfortunate enough to end up in hospital with some major problems, while others have disappeared from the business for good.
Having learned of these events during the Manufacturing Industry Achievement Awards night out, I was in no mood for a trip to the Hilton Hotel the following day. There I was due to meet members of Stegmann UK for a press conference on a new motor/drive interface. Instead, I left the Plaza hotel I had stayed in the night before for a quiet walk in the gardens of Kensington Palace. I re-entered the real world via Lancaster Gate tube station one hour later.
As it happened, I arrived at the press conference inordinately early. So I spent a good hour or so chatting to Malcolme Thorburn, the public relations agent organising the conference. We got to commiserating about those less fortunate colleagues in the business, and reflecting upon the fact that when bad things happen, the shock always leads you to question your own role in the grand scheme of things.
Later, things returned to normality as the chaps from Stegmann, Germany, ploughed into their presentation. It looks as if their new product will make life a lot easier for end users who need a universal interface that will allow them to plug and play drives and motors together.
For a while there, the gloom and doom of the previous day’s news lifted as the intricacies of the engineering behind the `Hiperface’ interface were revealed to members of the press.
On the way home in the car, I reflected that even if there is no grand plan behind the lives that we lead, then at least engineers can rest easy in the knowledge that they have performed a useful role designing products that make life easier for other individuals on the planet.
More importantly, the intellectual challenge of the design process may, for a while, bring some distraction from the inevitability of life that undoubtedly will catch up with us all in the end.