Gregorio Marañón, a man famous around the world as a physician, scientist, inventor, creative-historian, a serious writer and philosopher. Across Spain, he is perhaps best remembered for his attempt to invent the mobile telephone. The accompanying image to this story shows Grego – as he was known to his friends – with the original prototype placed atop a blueprint design.
The idea for a mobile phone first came to Marañón in his private study, whilst typing an article draft for Spanish smut magazine El Hombre, in early 1959. A telephone call had come through from La Quiniela lottery company, informing him of a ten million peseta jackpot win. By today’s value, this is equivalent to approximately two million pounds sterling.
Astounded by the news, Marañón had leapt out of his chair as if struck by high voltage electricity. A fly on the wall, had it been inclined to watch, would have witnessed a man punching the air, repeatedly bending down onto his haunches and leaping upwards, fast losing his composure.
Bryce stared out of his hospital single-bedroom’s window, feeling plenty of sorrow for himself. Sunday’s were boring to him. Up to this point, he’d not regularly attended church services, his parents were dead, he had no other family, no friends and in general, nothing interesting seemed to happen on the ward he’d been admitted to. Each day, the diligent sanitisation staff emptied bins and enthusiastically pushed and pulled on plastic brooms in practised patterns on their rounds, while remaining taciturn throughout. Over the last week, he’d developed a longing to get to know them. And yet, had he ever managed to catch their attention, the reveal would be that they held no desire to share any detail of their lives with him. Today, following yet another series of tests and measurements last Thursay, a final analysis was due. Upon waking up earlier, staring up at the ceiling, Bryce had fully expected to be discharged.
“I wonder what’s up there?” Phyllis said to Zelda over a background noise of the elevator counterweight system in motion. They studied the control panel showing floor levels marked with gallery names. The label for the top floor read PRIVATE NO PUBLIC ACCESS. A mutually-shared sense of curiosity dispensed with any need to exchange words, as her companion pressed the corresponding button.
Outside of the elevator, everything in view was a disorientating whiteness. A labyrinth of echoey corridors, soon found them lost and confused. “Wow,” said Zelda, “Are we in Heaven?” Aside from the floor, skirting boards, the walls, the ceiling and pendant lamps, there was nothing. Not a trace of decoration, no tropical plant displays, water-cooler or snack-bar vending machine, not even a fire-extinguisher canister, as one might expect.
“I don’t recall dying.” Said Phyllis sardonically, “This, is like some mad Minimalist’s fantasy! What is it about minimalism’s fascination with the colour white? Why not all this in mauve, for example?”
Pam received a knock on the door at five in the afternoon, to the door of the house she’d rented and a place she’d called home for the previous fifteen years. She hadn’t done much with the place over this time, trapped as she was, by the renter’s dilemma: Why do things the landlord should do, when she might decide to leave next year. A dilemma that felt progressively meaningless, as each year followed after another. Yes, the carpets had worn thin long ago, the power of the shower, never good, was pathetic now. The small sun room on the back of the property leaked-in rainwater, paint peeled from the window frames and from the front door, the same front door that had just received a rap from a lightly tightened fist, trying to gain her attention.
Pam was slouched on the futon-settee, a laptop computer resting on her thighs as the anticipated second burst of reverberations from a more firmly tightened fist rang out several decibels louder. She felt irritated by the interruption. Who could it be, another door-to-door sales person selling window replacements? A police officer half-heartedly investigating a local burglary? A pesky teenager doing a knock and run? Keiko, her mangy black and white cat was slotted comfortably within a space formed by Pam’s legs, sleeping, twitching occasionally. This was going to be a considerable disruption, Pam thought. She felt conflicted. To answer, or ignore? She glanced up at a the bright, unshaded wall light and concluded that from the outside, this would indicate to an observant visitor that someone was indeed, home.
I came across this fragment online: An interview film featuring two characters living as husband and wife in a small, Paraguayan town. One that includes a large community of ethnic Germans, within its population.
While at no point in the clip is a date mentioned, the fashion, furniture, quality of the picture, sound and the historical references divulged, gives a feel of the late 1950s.
Most of the filming takes place in a spartan-furnished lounge, with the pair shown seated together on a charcoal-grey settee. A bland, greenish landscape painting hangs framed on the wall. To the left and smaller, a pictorial calendar displays August’s arrangement of a white teapot, cup, saucer and a pile of books. A ribbon-tied spray of pink carnations lay across the open pages of the topmost book. The wallpaper, floral and faded, completes the scene.
“Ja, nien.” The woman is wearing a sleeveless white blouson top and a black wrap-around skirt. Her make-up and hair are immaculate. Initially hesitant, she directs her answers to a man positioned off-camera, evidenced by the occasional plume of cigarette smoke drifting across the scene.