Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Laurie Taylor

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Laurie Taylor

Article excerpt

Our speaker ignored the social impact of the net and focused on shopping on the Tesco website

My own feeling was that the stifling weather and the rather modest status of the speaker would keep the numbers down, so it was heartening to walk into the upstairs function room at the Marquis of Cornwallis last Monday and discover more than a dozen people already assembled for the first meeting of the Telos Club. It looked as though our initially self-conscious attempt to create a forum for debate in the east Bloomsbury area had become a reality.

In my opening remarks I explained that the Telos club had been created in response to a growing feeling among intelligent people that there was no place to debate the issues of the day. "This club," I announced, "is the antidote to all those superficial dinner parties and social evenings where the topic of conversation rarely rises above the latest changes in house prices and the best number to ring to secure a mind-numbing wrap of good cocaine." (That got a nice, sympathetic chuckle from the man with the Becks and the large notebook in the corner.)

I then pointed out that we would be meeting every month and introduced tonight's speaker. Nick Havering, I explained, was currently a freelance IT consultant but had worked for nearly a decade as an assistant systems engineer at IBM. We owed him a special debt of gratitude as he had stepped in at short notice, immediately after Will Hutton discovered he had more important matters to attend to on Monday evenings.

We'd described Havering's talk in our circular as a "critical look at the impact of the Internet on social and personal life in the new millennium". Even in that form it was hardly a very tantalising topic. But, if Havering had stuck to his brief, we might have generated a mildly interesting discussion. …

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