I have been playing around with this rather clever AI chatbot Claude.ai. While ChatGPT gets all the attention, Claude is more user-friendly and impressive.
It has this cool feature where you can upload a file, and it will summarise the contents for you. I tried it out with John Connolly’s post about banking. This is what it made of it:
Thank you for sharing these poignant and vivid memories from your childhood in 1950s Belfast. Your stories provide a fascinating glimpse into family life, economic hardship, and evolving attitudes towards banks and money during that period.
I’m struck by the resourcefulness and resilience your family displayed in the face of financial mishaps like the lost half-crown and burnt pound note. The trips to the bank stand out as particularly momentous events full of hope, anticipation and nervousness. Banks seemed to occupy a position of great power and authority at the time.
Your recollection of the community effort to retrieve the half-crown from the drain is very touching. It illustrates the camaraderie and spirit of helping others that existed, even among young children.
The comparison you draw between the reverence for banks in the past and the frustration with them in more recent times is thought-provoking. The personal touch and customer service clearly meant a lot more then. Your perspective on how banks’ priorities have shifted away from average customers towards profits is incisive.
Thank you for taking me on this poignant walk down memory lane. I appreciate you sharing these stories which bring history to life and remind us of enduring human virtues like generosity and perseverance.
I then asked it to suggest some headlines for the post, and to be honest they were better than what I could come up with. I ended up using number 5.
Here are some suggested titles for your post:
– Half Crowns, Crisp Oncers, and Bygone Days: Growing Up in 1950s Belfast
– From Half Crowns to ATMs: A Belfast Childhood Spanning the Evolution of Banking
– Drain Grates and Burnt Banknotes: Tales of Money and Community in Postwar Belfast
– Reverence, Resilience and Ragged Pound Notes: My Belfast Childhood
– From the Gutters of Belfast to the Halls of Banking: A Personal Journey Through Changing Times
– Lost Coins and Lessons Learned: Reflecting on Childhood Scrapes and a Vanishing Way of Life in Belfast
– The Art of Making Do: Stretching Half Crowns and Crisp Oncers in 1950s Belfast
– Fields, Farthings and Fumbled Fortunes: Boyhood Memories of Money in a Bygone Belfast
– Half Crowns, Postal Orders and a Pounding of Profits: One Man’s View on the Evolution of Banking
– From Tanners to ATMs: A Belfast Child’s Changing Relationship with Money
Let me know if any of those titles appeal to you or if you would like me to suggest some additional options. The key is finding a title that evokes the nostalgia and changing times you describe so vividly.
I then asked it for a 160 character summary of the post for Twitter:
Here is a 160 character summary of your post:
Poignant memories of 1950s Belfast: scrambling to retrieve lost half-crowns, nurturing burnt banknotes, and marveling at the revered world of banking – contrasted with frustrating modern tech woes and profits-first mentality eroding customer service.
Then I had a clever idea. I asked it ‘can you write me a critical response to the article from loyalist who has no time for anything to do with ireland’ and sure enough it obliged:
Here is a draft critical response from the perspective of a loyalist who is dismissive of Irish culture and history:
I’ve no time for all this nostalgic harping on about growing up in Belfast. What’s done is done. No point dwelling on the past when there’s work to be done improving the here and now.
Half crowns and crisp oncers? Those days are long gone, and good riddance. We’ve bigger things to worry about than scrounging for spare change in drains. That’s no way for hard-working folk to live.
And don’t get me started on those banks. Crooks, the lot of them! I’d rather stash my cash under the mattress than trust those suits to look after my money. ATMs and instant transfers aren’t worth the risk.
All this reminiscing about bygone days just distracts from the real issues. The only history I care about is preserving our loyalist culture against you-know-who trying to erase it.
Those were tough times back then and we survived them together. But we won’t survive if we sit around reminiscing while the other side plots to undermine Ulster’s place in the Union.
So let’s keep our eyes fixed firmly on the future and make this country work for the next generation. The past is the past – it’s the present and future that matter. No more wasting time on irrelevant old stories from across the border. Ulster first, last, and always!
How’s that? I’ve tried to capture the skeptical, dismissive tone of a loyalist who sees Irish nostalgia as a threat to Ulster identity and has little patience for such musings. Let me know if you would like me to modify or expand on any part of the response.
Excellent work I said. Now can you write me a response from an irish republican who loved the article:
Here is a draft response from the perspective of an Irish republican who appreciated the nostalgic tales of growing up in 1950s Belfast:
Ah sure, didn’t those stories transport me right back to my own childhood in Belfast during those post-war days! Your vivid memories are a pure breath of fresh air, so they are.
The trials and tribulations you went through to retrieve lost coins and nurture burnt notes – and the community spirit it fostered – warmed the cockles of my heart. It reminded me of my own neighbors banding together during tough times, when every penny counted.
Those days might have been hard, but your writing casts them in a rosy, nostalgic glow. It makes me long for the simple pleasures like eagerly anticipating a bag of chewy toffees when the week’s shopping was done.
And your tale of venturing tentatively into the revered halls of the Munster & Leinster bank captured perfectly the awe us working folk felt towards those grand institutions back then. How times have changed, with those greedy bankers counting their millions while regular folks struggle!
Your lyrical trip down memory lane shows why we must treasure stories from ordinary lives. They connect us to our roots and the hard-won spirit of community that built this country.
So thank you for bringing a wee bit of Belfast’s history back to life. You’ve a born storyteller’s gift, so you have. I hope you’ll share more of these golden memories and transport us again to a vanishing way of life we ought not forget.
How’s that? I tried to convey an appreciation for the nostalgia and community spirit evoked, as well as lament the loss of those old ways, from a pro-Irish perspective. Please let me know if you would like me to modify the tone or emphasis at all.
I for one welcome our new AI overlords and suggest that from now on at weekends we let AI take over the comments zone and we can all go for a dander or head to the pub.
Maybe we could take it further and have AI write the posts, then AI can respond to the posts and it can argue with itself.
What say you?
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.