Thursday

Thursday 11/07/2002Our roving broadband reporter, Graeme "Fat Pipe" Wearden is despatched to Goonhilly Downs, the satellite station deep in the Cornish countryside which BT proudly proclaims as the biggest on earth. It's an anorak's nirvana: huge parabolic dishes point proudly out to sea, named after various members of Arthurian legend.

Thursday 11/07/2002
Our roving broadband reporter, Graeme "Fat Pipe" Wearden is despatched to Goonhilly Downs, the satellite station deep in the Cornish countryside which BT proudly proclaims as the biggest on earth. It's an anorak's nirvana: huge parabolic dishes point proudly out to sea, named after various members of Arthurian legend. The Romano-Celts weren't noted for their high technology and skills in microwave engineering, but you know how romantic engineers can get. "Scoop" Wearden didn't quite manage to penetrate the secrets of the 'experimental' section of the site, the scattering of small dishes tucked away in the southernmost extremity that never get a mention in the PR puff -- our sources say that it's amazing what you can pick up from the deep south-west if you know what you're listening to or, even better, if you don't -- but he did report a presentation where a picture of Sir Peter Bonfield took pride of place. As the bluff, beardy countenance of Sir Peter departed the BT boardroom some six months ago, this raises certain fears about the staff down in Goonhilly. Are they, posits Graeme, like some lost outpost of Japanese soldiers on a Pacific island, gamely fighting on for country and Emperor while not knowing the cause is long since lost? It's certainly true that the strange light, air and rocks of Cornwall do twist a man's perceptions in curious, almost mystical ways. But I prefer instead to think of the cargo cults of the South Seas, where long after the US Air Force had been, dropped supplies and gone, the natives continued to call out on hand-made models of radio sets while wearing wooden headphones and sitting beside bamboo aerials. Has anyone done an anthropological study of the tribe of Goonhilly? Or, for that matter, the board of BT? There has to be an explanation somewhere...

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