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Poet Laureate to mark gas meter demise

BBC News BBC News 18/04/2016
Smart meter: About three million homes in the UK already have a smart meter installed © BBC About three million homes in the UK already have a smart meter installed

The Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, is to write an ode to old-fashioned gas and electric meters as they face extinction.

Glasgow-born Duffy, who was appointed Poet Laureate in 2009, said she wanted to preserve the place of traditional "whirring" meters in household history.

Mechanical meters have been a feature in British homes for about 100 years, but will phased out by 2020.

The poem will be published in the next few months.

Duffy was the first woman in the post's 341-year history when she was appointed Poet Laureate by the Queen seven years ago.

She has written verse for a number of significant national occasions - including Last Post which marked the deaths of Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, the last two British soldiers to fight in Word War I.

In 2010, she wrote Achilles (for David Beckham) about the Achilles tendon injury that left the England footballer out of that year's World Cup.

The replacement of old gas and electricity meters with smart meters in every British home and small business by 2020 is the latest significant moment recorded by the Poet Laureate.

Duffy said: "Gas and electricity meters have been a fixture under stairs and in cupboards for more than a hundred years so it felt fitting to preserve their place in household history with a poem.

"It is definitely one of my most unusual projects, but hopefully I'm able to produce a piece that captures the last whirs of these spinning machines before they make way for their digital counterparts," she said.

In November last year, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed A Requiem For Meters, a three-minute piece of music played entirely on instruments made from old gas and electricity meters.

It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and released for free on Spotify to raise awareness of the coming of smart meters.

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, said: "There is a great British tradition of marking national moments with poetry.

"Carol Ann Duffy, as our national Poet Laureate, is the perfect person to express the significance of the demise of traditional meters and the transformation that will come about as a result of smart meters."

More than three million smart meters have already been installed across Britain.

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