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Author Topic: Would you really want to live in a steampunk era?  (Read 1362 times)
Maxwell Grantly
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« on: April 28, 2015, 07:34:28 pm »



If you have ever wondered what it is really like to live in a steampunk world, this BBC television programme might be the closest we can get to this idea.
 
http://www.radiotimes.com/episode/dkfvw5/24-hours-in-the-past--series-1---episode-1
 
Every Tuesday evening for the next few weeks (in the UK only - sorry) various celebrities will try and survive 24 hours, living in typical Victorian conditions. I know that it isn't strictly steampunk but it might prove to be rather an interesting programme, if you are interested in this era.
 
I am sorry to those of you who live outside the UK – I know that the BBC places many restrictions upon the reproduction of its broadcasts to other countries. However, I bet that (within a few days) some dishonest individual is bound to upload something to YouTube!
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2015, 08:06:25 pm »

Well, I don't think I'd want to live in a Victorian era, but I certainly would want to live in a "lighter side of steampunk" era Wink
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2015, 08:08:26 pm »

Live in Victorian times - no
live in steampunk times - yes
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2015, 10:02:17 pm »

In theory, higher technology mean higher comfort. I won't howewer bet a lot on social evolutions.
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Maxwell Grantly
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2015, 10:28:17 pm »

I’ve just finished watching this programme and I was thoroughly impressed by the realism that the group had to endure. They were placed in a fully reconstructed Victorian town, with many other actors all in role taking the cast of the townsfolk. As you might guess, the conditions that they endured were particularly grim and harsh.

Firstly, after leaving all their modern day luxuries behind, the group had to choose appropriate clothing to wear. They did this my rummaging through tattered remnants of clothing that were filthy and drab. Multiple townsfolk, perhaps as many as six different people prior to the programme, had worn each item of clothing. The group then spent the day doing typical tasks that people of this period would have done: separating dog excrement from horse manure so that the dog excrement could be sent to the tanning works; sieving through ash to find rotten food, bones and rags and finally beating carpets to clean them. There was no romanticism in the awful backbreaking chores that they carried out. One of the group began to vomit, as she was forced to mix human excrement, oats and horse manure as use for fertiliser. The group endured these conditions for twenty-four hours; the Victorians had to endure these conditions for a lifetime.

If anything, it made me realise that when we role-play steampunk characters, we usually choose middle class or upper-class roles, in clean and attractive attire. After all, who wants to role-play shovelling human excrement as a night soil man! (Not me!) Obviously, when I write my next story, the hero will be clean and idealised. I’ll always make sure that there will be a happy ending in all of my stories and that the villains will be punished. If I dwelt too much on the dreary monotony of daily life, I doubt whether I would ever sell a single story! Yes, we all know that, if we really were to live in a steampunk era, our lives would be awful and dismal. But, where’s the fun in reality – it’s good to fantasise.
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2015, 01:46:46 am »

Do not confuse a TV program with reality, even an alternative reality.

There is nothing more unreal than TV.

In any shape or form.
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2015, 02:16:59 am »

This is just the lower class. If you were to do a similar test (which there have been) with the modern day impoverished, you would find the same results of people saying that it is awful.

This however does not mean that you discount all of society based on those in the lower living conditions.

There was a lot of good in the Victorian Age and a lot of bad. There is a lot of good in the Modern Age and a lot of bad. The differences may vary due to technology, but the idea is still there.

Would I personally like to live in the Victorian Era? I honestly do not know. There are ups and downs of this Era and the Victorian Era.

The main point of this however is just to say not to discount and entire time period because of one piece of the chronological puzzle.

Otherwise, good find on the show! Do you know maybe when a DVD/Blu-ray or internet provider will bring it to the USA?
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2015, 08:17:18 am »

Don't discount a society or era just because you might have to sort through a pile of sh*t.

Currently rescue-workers, soldiers, and just random survivors will be digging through much worse in what were last week the streets, shops, homes and sewers of downtown Kathmandu. Sorry if you have a weak stomach, but its nearing the end of the first week, the bodies that haven't been buried yet - and that will be most of the found ones and all the unfound ones - will be putrifying, being eaten by the surviving small mammals and birds, leaking their fluids out of the rubble and probably into what passes for drinking water sources, etc etc... personally, I'd take sorting nice safe dogsh*t anyday. Then in a few years, we'll be back trekking and drinking chai and taking selfies in front of quaint piles of tumbled bricks, and staying in neat clean guest-houses again like it's still the the glory days of the Raj. And somebody will still be living in the contaminated mud and drinking unfiltered water.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 08:21:03 am by Fairley B. Strange » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 08:23:15 am »

Yes, I take your points on board.

I'm sorry, Steampunk Away, the programme was only aired for the first time last night and so I have no idea as to if it will ever be released on DVD or Blu-Ray. However, I guess that it will very soon find its way onto Internet (such as YouTube) in underhand ways.
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2015, 12:56:47 pm »

I just realized that I sounded a little indignant/preachy. Sorry for that.

And hopefully it will appear sooner rather than later on some medium that Americans can view.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 12:58:54 pm by Steampunk Away » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2015, 01:34:14 pm »

So who here wants to build a steampowered oat/excrements mixing machine?
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2015, 01:50:13 pm »

Maybe a power-shaking ash-sieve, or perhaps a piston-driven mechanical carpet-beating arm?

   Hmmm, this might improve the housemaids' chores in more ways than one...
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2015, 07:33:57 pm »

mr strange, i am sure they had their ways, though i agree it would make work better Wink
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2015, 08:01:23 pm »

There was a BBC documentary series a few years ago called The Edwardian Country House. 

To quote Wiki
Quote
In the series the Olliff-Cooper family are given the identities of turn-of-the-century aristocrats and housed in Manderston, an opulent Scottish country house, where they live for three months in the Edwardian style. Mr. and Dr Olliff-Cooper become Sir John Olliff-Cooper and Lady Olliff-Cooper.
Interest and conflict is provided by the 15 servants, portrayed by individuals from several paths of life. Chief among these was Hugh Edgar, an architect from Surrey, who was cast in the role of the butler.
Participants received instruction and a set of rules by which they were expected to abide for the duration of the experiment. Most of the "upstairs" participants enjoy their time in the house, which is meant to represent the years 1905–1914. Those "below stairs" have a different experience; for those in the lowest ranks, particularly the successive scullery maids, life appears to be intolerable

Interestingly "Sir John" thought everyone was happy and content while the servants loathed him.  His unmarried sister-in-law became a suffragette mainly because she was nearly hysterical with boredom. 
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Maxwell Grantly
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2015, 08:03:47 pm »

I wish I had seen the Edward Country House - that sounds really intriguing. Maybe there might be a repeat in the future.
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2015, 08:24:55 pm »

I saw part of this program (mainly because I don't tend to watch that much telly these days) but find myself forced to agree with Messrs Away and Strange. This doesn't really give a particularly accurate view of Victorian society, this gives you a view of the lowest of the low (most of the jobs they were doing tended to be done by the elderly, the very young, the destitute and the infirm, in other words people who had no other choice if they wanted to survive) and I know from inside information the last in the series takes place in a workhouse (presumably the 'cast' will be gradually lowered to that level over the course of the series).

Ultimately, as has been said, there's nothing particularly unpleasant about any of what they were doing once you get past your modern, western niceties. Take for example emptying the privies as night soil men (Ms Widicome rightly pointed out that we simply flush our excrement away) but just because we're not confronted with our own waste on a regular basis doesn't mean other people aren't (I mean there must be several thousand people in the UK alone who work on sewage farms, or regularly empty out stable blocks/animal pens as part of their living).
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2015, 12:07:03 am »

I saw part of this program (mainly because I don't tend to watch that much telly these days) but find myself forced to agree with Messrs Away and Strange. This doesn't really give a particularly accurate view of Victorian society, this gives you a view of the lowest of the low (most of the jobs they were doing tended to be done by the elderly, the very young, the destitute and the infirm, in other words people who had no other choice if they wanted to survive) and I know from inside information the last in the series takes place in a workhouse (presumably the 'cast' will be gradually lowered to that level over the course of the series).

Ultimately, as has been said, there's nothing particularly unpleasant about any of what they were doing once you get past your modern, western niceties. Take for example emptying the privies as night soil men (Ms Widicome rightly pointed out that we simply flush our excrement away) but just because we're not confronted with our own waste on a regular basis doesn't mean other people aren't (I mean there must be several thousand people in the UK alone who work on sewage farms, or regularly empty out stable blocks/animal pens as part of their living).

 The  lucky fellows who find  such treasures s false teeth, wedding rings , $20 notes, cell phones  that good folk have carelessly flushed away

Their biggest complaint maybe nt ever being able to find a pari of teeth that fit.  Shocked
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2015, 12:10:35 am »

.
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2015, 01:00:27 am »

.

(?)
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« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2015, 02:31:59 am »

Steampunk is a phenomenon of the last 10 years or so and we ARE living in it.
Very happy to be living.
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« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2015, 05:09:16 pm »

Jobs I've done include re-pointing the manholes to sewers, cleaning bars (including the toilets) ... People still do many of those jobs (if they didn't we'd have cholera outbreaks in every western city)!

Now they are called 'sanitation technicians' or some such .... Do you really think the 'dog poo fairy' and the '8 pints and a Kebab fairy' clean up after a Saturday night?
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« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2015, 06:22:47 pm »



 Industrial Disease  is still  epidemic
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Maxwell Grantly
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« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2015, 10:34:31 pm »

I’ve just finished watching the second episode of http://www.radiotimes.com/episode/dkqkcw/24-hours-in-the-past--series-1---episode-2 and, again, I was fascinated by the details of the programme. I found it to be quite an addictive watch. If you live in the UK and if you are interested in this period, it is a most engaging programme. If you live elsewhere, perhaps you may get a chance to view a DVD in the future or watch a pirate upload on some video channel. I would strongly recommend it.

I’ve always had an interest in the Victorian period and, I am sure, this is why I enjoy steampunk so much. However, reading history books about the Victorian period or watching fictional stories set in that time fail to convey the harsh mundane lifestyles that most people faced every day of their lives. True, even a reality television programme cannot be totally authentic in producing a reconstruction of daily life. Even still, it was able to convey many common details about how working class people lived; information that many school history lessons in the classroom or period dramas fail to convey. For example, during one short aside, one of the group members gave feedback on how he cleaned his teeth, by rubbing a cake of soap across his teeth. He likened the experience to licking the inside of an old soap dish. The volunteers slept upon wooden boards, covered with a bag of straw. It was a far cry from what they were expecting. Their clothes were rough and uncomfortable. They had the most basic washing facilities: an outdoor bucket of dirty cold water and rags. Most noticeable was the amount of work that they were expected to complete each day: their working day started at day break and continued well into the night. Their reimbursement for all these chores barely covered their day-to-day expenses. They were forced into a spiteful hand-to-mouth existence and had no escape. I noticed that it was also hard for the volunteers to “remember their place” and show due reverence to their middle-class and upper-class customers, by refraining to talk unless they were spoken to.

Again, I am really interested in steampunk and the Victorian period too. I’d quite like to experience this life in all its harsh realities – if only to deepen my understanding of this time period and gain a deeper understanding of something that really interests me.  But, most importantly, at the end of the day, I’ll be glad to return to my centrally-heated home, sit in front of the television screen with a warm drink of hot chocolate in my hand, and look forward to a soak in a hot bath and a sleep upon a soft comfortable bed. Yes, I’d love to fantasise about living in a steampunk world but I wouldn’t swap my life in 2015 for a no-return ticket to this world.
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« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2015, 10:57:18 pm »

Well therein lies the question, are you talking about a return to the actual Victorian era? Or a hypothethical retro-futuristic "Steampunk" era (the denizens of which are blessed with the conveniences of a modern post industrial society)?

I'll admit it probably comes down to one's own view of what is or isn't Steampunk, but ultimately most Steampunk worlds (even many of those with post-apocalyptic views of a rebuilding society) envisage what is ultimately a modern world recreated with 19th Century technology and tools as opposed to a Victorian age with extra bits tacked on.
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Maxwell Grantly
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« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2015, 11:14:07 pm »

I think that you are right: much of this depends on what one defines to be steampunk or what is not.

I must confess that I do like having my current “luxuries” and I am sure that I would not want to permanently return to an alternative Victorian age (with extra bits tacked on.) However, although I do enjoy fantasising about alternative lifestyles, I do enjoy the security of returning to my own time.
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