This is a teasmade. And it is the most British invention.
It's a combination alarm clock and electric kettle, which means it has two settings:
and alarm with tea.
And like a lot of clocks that are built into appliances,
so, clocks on ovens and microwaves, and old style clock radios,
and central heating systems,
this clock keeps time by using the frequency of the power grid that it's connected to.
Or would be connected to, anyway, obviously I don't have power out here.
Power grids on this side of the Atlantic run at a frequency of 50 hertz, fifty cycles a second.
Now that 50 hertz frequency might rise or fall by a tiny fraction
as supply and demand affect the grid, but over the course of days and weeks
the electricity companies guarantee that it'll be averaged out to 50 hertz.
So clocks like this, which have to be plugged into the grid anyway,
can use that regular 50-cycles-a-second beat to keep themselves accurate.
Set this to the correct time, and it'll keep the correct time as long as the power's on.
Over the last month, clocks over in Europe have lost six minutes.
If they're connected to the Continental European Power System,
which is one connected, synchronised grid stretching all the way from Spain to Denmark to Turkey,
if that clock is connected to that grid, it's six minutes slow.
This was revealed in a press release a few days ago from the
European transmission operators' association,
who managed to write a press release that sounded vaguely like
an angry parent who's getting close to the end of their rope.
The problem is politics.
Serbia and Kosovo have fallen out with each other.
That is an enormous simplification,
but if you think I'm going to try and explain the history of the Balkan politics system
while holding a teasmade, er, you are sorely mistaken.
Kosovo is low on power, Serbia isn't helping manage it,
and as a result the entire European grid has been slightly underpowered
since the middle of January.
Not by much -- but enough that the average grid frequency
has dropped from 50 hertz to 49.996.
So clocks like this, who are expecting 50...
okay, it doesn't sound like much,
but it works out to them losing six minutes over the last couple of months.
Problem number one is getting the grid back up to frequency,
and hopefully politics will solve that.
But problem number two is: when it is fixed,
should the European authorities bring the grid back to 50?
Or should they run it slightly fast for a few weeks?
If they do, it'll bring everything back that wasn't manually corrected...
but anyone who has already changed their clocks
will then find them starting to run six minutes fast.
And they'll have to change them again.
They're probably going to pick the second option, but who knows?
Fortunately for me, I don't have to worry about it.
As I'm sure 52% of Britons will be ecstatic to hear,
the mainland European grid is not synchronised to the British National Grid here.
It is connected, through two undersea cables,
one under the English Channel from France,
and the other one from the Netherlands, landing right here,
on the Isle of Grain, which is near...
nowhere. It's... it's absolutely in the middle of nowhere.
But these cables are direct current cables, not alternating current.
They doesn't require grid synchronisation.
So while mainland Europe's grid is slow,
our British grid is going at 50 British cycles a second,
as Her Majesty intended. ["God Save the Queen" plays]
Our... our ovens are turning on at the right time.
Our clock radios are remaining on time.
Our... our microwaves are showing the correct time!
[Music stops] Or they're showing 12:00 because no-one's bothered to program them,
but that's not the point, the point is, [Music resumes]
the clocks may be going slow all over Europe, but here in Britain,
our teasmades are boiling precisely on schedule.
God Save the Queen.
And god help us all.
I think that's a take.