The path was long and dreary, darkness creeping across the stones and through the windows. Though there hung a few lanterns, dim and wet by the rain, they provided little light through the sheet of icy drops. Tom stared up the narrow street, narrowing his eyes to see through the arrows of rain and to keep it out of his eyes. It was like staring through a keyhole as a child, he could see something but was too dusty and dark to tell what.
A moment later he saw it come closer, then he heard a noise though it was harder to tell what. It took a moment for him to realise, then quick as a shot he leapt to the side of the street as a horse and cart pulled by him, the driver shouting angrily and rudely. Tom hardly knew where he was, he could scarcely see the shop signs on front of him, let alone a driver and cart!
He pushed himself back into the street, wrapping his cloak about himself, then set forwards. He knew the pub was up this road, how far he had forgotten, but he knew it was not far. There were warm fires in some houses he passed, people sitting around them, richer people sat around their gramophones and read books, or else smoked large, wide tobacco pipes. Tom hated walking past the rich peoples’ houses, not because he was reminded how poor he was, rather because he hated that idea as a lifestyle; living easily, drinking fine ports and wines sophisticatedly, reading the papers and books in the evenings while scarcely ever petting the greyhounds which earn your millions. He preferred his line of work; sweating, working all the hours he could in the dirt and the rain, drinking in the evenings and not caring how he looked when it went down, then repeating as a daily routine. Life was hard, but he knew it was honest and worth while. Yet for all the wealth and the poorness of the world, it was of some comfort to him remembering hearing a saying; the rain falls on the rich man and the poor. Right now, Tom believed that it just fell on him.
The storm seemed to be getting heavier before lighter, there were claps of thunder and flashes across all the world. He came through the narrow alley into a street lined with gas lamps. There were fewer horses and carts on his street, but new motorcars and such with headlights and engines which meant no horse was required. There were some other people on the street too, bankers and business owners mostly. He noted them in their black suits and bowler hats, they looked the part, but rushing through the rain in panic and chaos seemed strange. A few hat umbrellas, not many. The poor on the streets were begging and hiding from the rain as best as they could, but there was scarce they could do. Many would die tonight, Tom knew, some already had, their corpses lining the pavement as people trod over them and seemed oblivious to the human death about.
The wider street continued for a while, then what was cobblestone became smoother, finer stone, much better for driving on. The people continued in a similar fashion, a few looked finer and even the poor and lowly man was dressed better down this road. The street-cars were more common, vans and newer models began to appear, among them coloured cars no longer plain black or metallic, the buildings were more modern, away with the pillars and the red bricks, in came concrete, though bricks never truly faded away completely, nor did stone. This road was much shorter than the others, but inside of the houses Tom saw new machines; the ‘wireless’ or radio, the piano was no longer a rich man’s treat but many had them, the same as books, but the rich man has his luxuries; expensive cars such as Rolls Royce, cigars and pipes, still the largest houses and most importantly of all, the rich man had land!
The road ended quickly, leading to a far smoother road made from a new material; tarmac. Tom knew the pub was nearby now, he could smell the curry shop next to it, and the Chinese takeaway opposite. This road was a complicated road, he had mixed feelings over. While it introduced new, wonderful contraptions and belongings, it was less warm, less personal, less close. At the far ends of the road were games, nearby to where he was was the simple television. It was only in the rich houses again, a black and white screen which had to warm up before anything appeared, yet there it was. It was a time when one could receive two channels on the television: the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the International Television (ITV), it was a brand new window to a hundred thousand worlds and ideas, the place where people could see amazing tricks, stunts, shows visualising reality, they could even see Princess Margaret’s wedding, the first televised royal wedding! Further along the road things turned more grim for the family, suddenly children sat on the floors and on sofas playing on games consoles instead of playing games with the family, such classic games as chess or monopoly were replaced with Nintendo Entertainment System and such games, further down the street the storm turned heavier and houses appeared with the Super Nintendo, then the Nintendo 96 and the Playstation. Families were no longer close, suddenly music developed and went from records to tapes, to CDs, to MP3 players, to iPods. Tom hated how the world had become, he scarcely saw a child play outside these days nor ride their bikes. The world became confusing, different, it was the same but with less in it. It was a colder world, one full of wonderful new technologies but one which they could not use such devices for good.
Finally, he reached the pub. After travelling so far and seeing how the world had become, he dreaded to think where it would lead to next, yet the wonders of the future also lured him. ‘Perhaps’ he thought ‘this time they’ll do something right.’