The mainstream press is all a flutter that the wedding invites to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials were sent out by fax.
However what the great unwashed might not understand is that the Royal Household treats technology with some suspicion.
In the early 90s, I worked briefly for her Majesty in Windsor Castle, and I was present when the first fax machine arrived in the office. Since I was the computer bod I had it sat next to my desk and was the only one who ever used it.
It was not a threatening machine. In fact it was a very cheap green Amstrad. When it was required to be used one of the staff would ask me very politely if I could send something on it as they were largely afraid to go near it. One person, whose family had served Royalty since George III, was so hands-off he would ask someone else to ask me to send the fax.
To be fair the other technology in the room behaved badly. I spent a lot of my day trying to fix the dot matrix printer which was so temperamental that if you looked at it in a funny way it would spit paper sideways. I could understand if technology spooked these elderly members of the household.
But the fax was an object of awe and the rest of the office was surprised that they were common place in the rest of the world. In fact the first fax was invented in the 19th century and was a common method of sending pictures.
But it was the fax that got me fired.
I was at an age where I failed to see the technology with the same wonder. As far as fax machines went, it was not as good even as the one I had at home. It was slower than the Queen Mum’s morning jog.
I was overheard talking to a supplier who asked me if it was better if he sent an order in by post, or by the fax. The order was something like 21 pages long and a challenge for most fax machines. The Amstrad would take the best part of a week to churn that out.
“You can send it by fax if you like, but it would be quicker writing it on the back of a tortoise and walking it around. Our fax machine is a bit steam driven,” I said.
I hung up the phone, totally unaware of the shock in the office. I had insulted the fax within its hearing.
Within the hour I was being escorted from Windsor Castle having been fired because “we do not appreciate your sense of humour”. Literally, we are not amused. Still, being fired by the Queen for having a sense of humour looks great on a CV.
While the mainstream media wonders why the wedding invites were not sent out using email, the answer is fairly obvious. After more than 20 years someone is brave enough to use the Amstrad without wasting the techie guy’s time. The techie guy is probably writing everyone’s emails and watching that he does not insult the Windows 95 computer he is probably using.