Modern lighting systems

I have recklessly given this posting a heading which will attract a swarm of purveyors of lamps towards me, all spamologists, but what the hell. This business of saving light has gone too far. In the office in which I currently work, if you sit quietly for twenty minutes, just talking or typing, the light goes out. You are therefore obliged to get up and to wave your arms about in a way that might recall an imate of Bedlam on a semaphore course, the better to trigger the lighting system back into action. Daft.

But not as daft as my time at a new building at the university where I worked a few years ago. Let’s call it Falmouth. I would arrive just after dawn. because it took me about 1 hr 50 mins to get there, and that was a good solution, because it gave me time to rest and to catch my breath, and, most importantly, prepare the room. I am a terrible fusspot when it comes to this, but I actually believe that about 20% of teaching is about arranging the room in the best possible way.

In the new building in which I worked, there were no internal walls, so that ‘rooms’ could be created at liberty. All the rooms were without natural light, however, since the architect had designed an attractive walkway round the central teaching block. And if you have mobile walls and no fixed idea of a room and all the light prohibited from entering, what problem do you have? Answer: locating a light-switch. This problem was almost entirely caused by the fact that there were no light-switches.

It’s 7 a.m. and I’m on the premises, which Security has unlocked for me. I want to get that room in shape before my down-time (all right, cooked breakfast). The room is pitch black. So how do I turn on the light in the absence of switches?

The answer is, find the zapper which controls the lights, and point it at them. Just two problems. This is a very well-equipped building, in which each ‘room’ is provided with a lot of technical equipment operated by … zappers. The other problem? The zappers, including the one for the light, are on the other side of the room, which is pitch-black. And even once you have barked your shins on your way to grab the zappers, you face the problem of pointing the correct one in the correct direction.

No architect has ever taught. At the college where I was head of department, a man in a bow-tie assured English staff, due to move into a new building on the floor above the musicians, that there was excellent soundproofing. It was 9.01 on the first day, and the first musician hit or blew the first instrument, and the English floor was filled with English teachers, waving their arms.


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