A NEIGHBOUR waylaid me as I came home the other day.

She’d recently had her kitchen renovated, and from down the back of an old cupboard she’d fished out a Daily Telegraph from August, 1985 (before new technology transformed the newspaper industry, defeating the unions but destroying thousands of jobs in a downward spiral that continues to this day).

“Ooh, that’s great,” I said, thinking my husband would love to see it because his late father used to be the Telegraph’s night works manager.

“I thought you’d appreciate the headline,” she said with a smile.

I did. ‘BR Threat to Sack 270 Guards’ it read, with a sub-heading explaining ‘Challenge to NUR on one-man trains’.

How funny, I thought. After all these years, we’re still in the same pickle. (I’m with the guards on this one. I feel much safer knowing they’re there.)

And then I thought, hang on a minute.

Surely before long, the way driverless technology is hurtling towards us, the dispute won’t just be about guardless trains, but about trains that don’t require anyone in the cab either?

Not to mention convoys of lorries on autopilot blocking the roads.

Does it make you feel good? Me neither. But fortunes have been invested in making sure it’s going to happen.

And when it does, it won’t just be redundant drivers struggling. What about the people who produce and sell goods and services that these former customers can no longer afford?

I’ve been reading an online report by accountancy giants PwC, called Will Robots Really Steal Our Jobs?

Fascinating stuff, which concludes that all will be reasonably well, at least for the brighter half of the population, as long as our leaders show a lot more moral leadership than they’ve done hitherto, to “ease the transition” and re-educate the workers.

Ah, yes. Those leaders. The ones so consumed by Brexit infighting that instead of funding education properly in the Budget they insult teachers by giving schools pocket money for a few 'little extras'.

What about the millions who haven’t got what it takes to become robotics engineers, computer programmers or gun-toting security guards at some vast data centre accessible only via the password-protected website clearoffyouoiks.com?

Maybe the lucky ones will get work as machine minders – which is how my father-in-law started out, after the Second World War.

Will the rest end up sitting around like a load of turnips staring at Netflix all day while the remote control is the only control they have over anything? We, as a society, need to talk about this a lot more.

The power of song

IN the meantime I’ll be doing less talking, more singing, on Saturday in the premiere of the latest commission by Salisbury Community Choir.

Freedom! The Power of Song contains snatches of tunes you’ll recognise – We Shall Not Be Moved, Abide With Me – brought together in a totally new way.

Joining us at Winchester Cathedral are a children’s choir and a jazzy quintet. Tickets from the cathedral box office.

Nervous? You bet. Wish us luck! Better still, come and listen!