Back in 1850, the Stamford Mercury was so impressed with the impact that train travel was having on the journey from Lincoln to Boston (reducing it from a tedious six hours to just over eighty minutes), it proclaimed in a hyperbolic frenzy that rail travel now made possible the ‘annihilation of time and space’.
Now, we’re quite used to the press stoking up the frenzy on a daily basis in this part of the 21st century so we shouldn’t be too surprised that they were at it in the mid 19th either. What makes this particular brand of hyperbole really interesting though is the fact that the notion of time and space as a ‘thing’ wasn’t really invented until 1908 when the mathematician Hermann Minkowski proposed the space-time continuum as a way to reformulate Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity.
So, how was it possible for a lowly reporter at the Stamford Mercury to report on the annihilation of a thing that actually wasn’t a thing until 58 years later? Had s/he mysteriously encountered a warp in the time space continuum on the banks of the River Witham which enabled them fall 58 years forward and gain prior knowledge of theoretical physics well before anyone else got a look in? Was train travel that good?
Given the state of the nation’s trains since then, I think this is implausible: but huzzah for the Stamford Mercury and its hyperbole. May it continue until the end of time. Or time-space. Or something like that. We could all do with some time-space annihilation at some point in our lives, and if it takes to riding a bike to experience it, when once only a train would do, then so be it.
I look forward to some time space warp adventures around the shire in the months to come.
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