Network: My Technology: Straight from the heart
Philip Knightley depends on his personal digital blood pressure monitor
Monday 18 January 1999
Most people ignore their blood pressure because hypertension is asymptomatic. In other words, there are no symptoms until you drop down with a stroke. Ten years ago I was walking along and suddenly saw a little spot in my vision. It turned out to be a retinal thrombosis. It was a tiny warning, but a warning nevertheless. Both my parents died of strokes, so high blood pressure can be a problem for me.
In London, I had a full cardiovascular check and the doctors told me that I had high blood pressure that was controllable with drugs and regular check-ups. I decided to monitor my own blood pressure. In those days, you had to buy a doctor's kit, with a cuff and stethoscope. You would spend lots of time learning to recognise a change in pulse beat and discern systolic and diastolic moments.
I moved on to a cuff plus electronic display which had all sorts of requirements - your arm had to be straight and supported along its whole length. Then I came across a Japanese-made digital blood pressure device called Lumiscope, costing about pounds 40. It fits in your pocket and measures the blood pressure in your left index finger; you stick your finger in, hold the device at heart level and press the start button. Thirty seconds later you have your BP. Anywhere, any time.
There is one other time when technology would have been useful. When Tim Philby, the British traitor who defected to the KGB, gave his first interview to me, I was told I would be welcome in the following order - wife and notepad. Six days of interviews had to be written in longhand. Perhaps they wanted to be in a position to deny things that were said.
What will strike viewers about the TV programme The Spying Game is how old-fashioned the technology was during the Cold War. There's been a dramatic change since then. The main change is that voice communication is no longer secure. The US national security computers are monitoring conversations with keyword interception - if we mention the "Islamic bomb" or "terrorist", the conversation is then monitored.
Interview by Jennifer Rodger
Philip Knightly appears in the Channel 4 series `The Spying Game: Tools of the Trade', beginning Saturday at 7.30pm
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Tory activist asked to step down after Labour candidate Rupa Huq is 'manhandled' while questioning Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
The C-Word, TV review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest account of a woman enduring a still too common fate
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Adam Sandler's The Ridiculous Six: Make-up 'used to darken skin of actors to make them look Native American'
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils