Thursday, April 11, 2019

Please read the terms and conditions

I confess to bearing Luddite tendencies when it comes to cellular telephones. It is a technological phenomenon that has washed over me leaving no debris in its wake.

I have a mobile telephone. I use it, on average, once a month to make a telephone call. I seldom send a text message. Most of the time it is switched off. I prefer to see where I am going when out and about, increasingly important these days when you are constantly the subject of intrusive physical contact by those too busy texting Gary telling him what Sarah Louise has just texted to look where they are going.

I know that there are all sorts of uses for these devices. I have only dabbled at the rim of the ocean of exciting possibilities and suspect that the occasional dipping of the metaphorical toes therein will suffice.

I was bemused, however, by this headline on the BBC news website:

“I delivered a baby over the phone”

I am very concerned about this for a variety of reasons. I chose not to read the article lest I became more alarmed. I have never been one to let ignorance of the facts deter my forming an opinion, I believe, indeed, that it is one of the criteria to which you are compelled to agree when signing up for internet access.

Was the baby downloaded from the cloud? If so I shall be considerably more circumspect in my use of the device if that is the case. I have no wish to press an icon that I assumed was a link to an app that updated me with the plot synopsis of the last 8 years of “Homes under the Hammer” only to find myself in possession of a newly born human. Does the technology only work with infants? Imagine your surprise to find that while you had been intending to check your email you had inadvertently beamed Gyles Brandreth down.

Even more alarming, mainly from the point of view of the baby, is the prospect of delivery by landline. One can only assume that the expulsion from the womb is a traumatic enough event without it concluding with a tortuous journeys down very thin cable via a junction box in Cirencester.

Don’t ask me, I can barely comprehend the mechanics of a propelling pencil.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Many happy returns

An email from a young lady called Gwen, a young lady I have never met nor communicated with before, asking me whether I had a good birthday has prompted me to record some memorable birthday occasions. I do this in order to save the rest of the world from having to enquire – I trusted that your curiosity will be sated by a few of these recollections. Whether they are good is not a straightforward matter – opinions change over the years and it is perhaps better to eschew judgement on events that may have been seen differently by some of the participants.

Allow me to begin (Allow? Ed. Who tf is going to stop you) by describing the year that my birthday was spent on the Orient Express. Some friends had decided that it would be fun. I did not entirely share their sanguinity but as I had declined invitations for excursions of the same nature I felt it appropriate to join in with this one. (My cynicism was grounded in evidence, I may, should time allow, describe at some point several of the vicissitudes experienced by my social circle).

It was decided that Bucharest would be our destination – again, not my choice. I am no real fan of rail travel, and London to Bucharest takes almost as long as the 14:42 service between Waterloo and Alton.

Although we set off with optimism and expectation, our spirits were somewhat dampened when it transpired that, due to a booking glitch, Tubby Mountjoy would have to share a sleeping compartment with Lord Hailsham.  I need hardly say that Hailsham was not one of our party – we had renounced the practice of consorting with senior politicians ever since the fiasco with Duncan Sandys – he simply had chosen to travel at the same time.

Tubby complained bitterly about Quintin’s appalling flatulence. We did not take it very seriously and thought that Tubby was exaggerating, but were forced to concede that the claims bore some veracity when a particularly alarming emission set off the smoke alarm and we had to spend several hours in the waiting room of a somewhat squalid station waiting room a few miles east of Zurich while the train was fumigated and the equipment repaired. On the bright side, Tubby was happier because the staff insisted on moving his Lordship. They set him up with a mattress in the luggage compartment at the rear of the train, and insisted that the rear door be left ajar in order to improve the air flow. Someone, can’t remember who, postulated that this would propel the train forward at a faster rate and thereby make up for lost time, but I am an agnostic when it comes to the laws of physics.