Pox-faced wenches casting buckets of excrement from windows into stinking alleyways below. Children wading along open sewers. Thousands of tons of manure from both horse and swine caked onto cart wheels. The stink of a city with no sanitation where every man fights for himself, lowering his capacious drawers and crapping where he fancies.
This was Britain just a few hundred years ago. There was a general acceptance that our towns and cities were filthy, and for a long time, there was very little drive for change.
Of course, in the developed world, this is unthinkable now. The filth finally got too much, disease prevailed and something was finally done. It is hard to imagine we ever tolerated it.
Now to my point: I think the story of how we power our energy-hungry lives in a finite world will be similar. There will come a time, perhaps decades hence, when it will be hard to imagine that we ever relied on dirty oil and gas. Hard to imagine we ever drove cars that belched tons of filth out into the air and our lungs. Cooling towers will be as out-moded as chamber pots thrown in to the street and children sent up chimneys.
But unfortunately, we are still stuck at the filth-out-the-window stage. Opposition to wind farms, usually in the form of Conservative MPs and Little-Englander pressure groups is strong and Cameron is listening. Wind farm fans are often seen as boho vegan weave-your-own tofus who "simply can't understand the necessity to go nuclear".
We are still stuck in the dark ages then, when it comes to renewables. Investment is wobbling because the government's policy direction is shaky. A handful of landowners and villagers who have allowed myth and suspicion to take over are hampering the march towards a clean and sustainable future.
But when the new utopia happens, when absolute necessity compels us to embrace wind, wave, sun etc it will be hard to imagine the times before. The Nimbyists protesting against windmills will go down in history with slave-traders and those who would drown ugly women as witches.