Comedian, author and TV & radio presenter Dominic Holland, one of the keynote speakers at our Housing Technology 2015 conference next March, shares his thoughts on the latest ‘smart’ technologies.
Housing and where we live has always been a good benchmark for our place in the world – our rung on the ladder so to speak.
I live in a perfectly nice house.
It is detached and each of my four children has a bedroom of their own. And because this house happens to be in leafy west London, it is a property that I could never afford to buy now and so I might have reason to feel smug and rather pleased with myself.
That is, until I visited a mate’s house and any self-satisfied smirk was wiped from my face.
And not just because his house is in an even more desirable area of London and is twice the size but because his dwelling was absolutely stacked with technology and the latest kit.
Technologically speaking, I now realise that I don’t live in a house at all. I actually live in a cave because I have to draw the curtains myself and turn on lights. In fact, I do not have a lighting system. I just have lights. My lights do not have settings or moods. My lights are either on or they are off. My mate has light switches but he doesn’t have to use them. He uses his console instead and can choose from 18 pre-programmed lighting moods. Presumably one of which is called ‘on a promise’ or possibly even ‘sex’ and is linked up with the curtains being drawn, electronically of course.
Us Hollands do have a garden hose. I know this because I can remember buying it although I am not entirely sure where it is. I imagine, somewhere in the depths of my shed or possibly in the garage.
I have central heating but the heat is delivered by radiators which need bleeding and is on my list of things to do. This list is as long as my wife’s face and this particular task comes hard on the heels of ‘find the bloody radiator key’.
I have a digital radio that I am particularly fond of. It sits on my kitchen worktop but the only way it can be heard if I am not in the kitchen is by the volume button. No such issues for my friend living in the Starship Enterprise with his stereo system plumbed through his ship to every room including each of the loos.
I dread to think what these gadgets must have cost him but it has to be significant, judging by how insistent he was to demonstrate every single gizmo to me.
“Here Dom, watch this.”
And the curtains would draw silently and obediently. Then, another click on his console and a television screen descended from the ceiling. Naturally, not just a normal telly either. Blooming enormous for starters. Quicker to measure it in yards than inches, it was loaded with every film and TV programme that had ever been made and I should imagine, films that have yet to even open.
“Hey, Dom, do you fancy a bath?”
No, I’m joking. He didn’t ask me this and if he had then I would have left post-haste. But he might as well have done because the house tour I hadn’t asked for took in the entire property; all three floors and the four bathrooms as well. Personally, I’ve never been seduced or suckered by the jacuzzi bath, much preferring the old-fashioned method of putting bubbles into my bath and the speakers in the wall, plus the telly (with films!) and the dimmable lighting didn’t appeal much either.
Under-floor heating. Air conditioning. Electric Velux windows. Security worthy of the American Embassy.
I could go on but I won’t because I might have left his home realising that I am not as successful as I might have thought but still I was happy to return home to my cave.
Because it’s a nice house as I have already said but more so because I already have to defer to my son to turn on our television, and I kid you not.
You will recall that the TV used to be affectionately called the ‘box’, which is obsolete now because we now have an Xbox plus a V box to negotiate with if the five terrestrial channels are to be found.
And this means that when faced with three remote controls and a television which has no on/off switch, I panic and I am liable to put my foot through the screen with frustration and I find that it is much cheaper and more productive to just shout loudly, “Harry… come and turn on the telly.”
And as a compromise, I draw the curtains myself.
Dominic Holland is a professional comedian, awards host, and after-dinner speaker, with numerous television and radio appearances to his name. He will be one of the keynote presenters at Housing Technology 2015 (4-5 March).