Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Toy Story

Another late, out of sequence post:

So, did you all have a lovely Christmas? Did Santa drop by in the night and give you everything that you had on your wish-list? Like that YouTube clip of the airport passengers waiting at the luggage carousel and out spilled all the presents they’d asked for?
            Because let me be the first to tell you that in the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda, none of us got what we wanted. And we are not happy.
            For months leading up to Christmas Day, Saffy prayed hard for anything from Bottega Veneta. She casually left around the flat magazines with the pages open to a Bottega ad. She would make sure she lingered outside the store windows whenever she went shopping with Amanda. She didn’t care what it was. It could have been a button, as long as it was Bottega Veneta.
            We got her a Nigella cookbook. “You can’t get anything for under $500 from that shop,” Amanda had said with great retail authority, and seeing as I only had about that amount left in my bank account, I was more than happy to fork over my half for Nigella.
            Meanwhile, Amanda wanted a package of massages from Qi Mantra, but when Saffy and I went shopping, we realised that our combined budget amounted to $300 which Saffy said might get Amanda a half-hour foot reflex. We ended up buying a blank notebook.
            Me, I wanted the new iPad Air.
            From the moment I saw the commercial for it, I wanted it. Coveted it. It’s the satin smooth steel finishing that just does it for me, with all those bright screen colours and icons and the unspoken promise that with just a few taps, you too could be making your very own Oscar-winning documentary about your Paris holiday, or learning to play the piano, or watching HD movies of Thor hurling thunder bolts at wicked elves.
I’ve never thought of myself as particularly techy, but something about the iPad Air whispers that it could turn me into a brilliant computer nerd.
If you’re one of those people who can’t figure out how to programme your new TV, you’ll know what I mean. It may all look remarkably impressive, but damned if I know how to even begin to use it. Never mind the fact that four year olds can master the intricate functions of the multi-coloured remote, while I’m still struggling to find the on-button.
I’ve just never had the brain that could work out electronics.
I once went on a holiday with my friend, Trevor and he had an entire piece of luggage just devoted to carrying around his must-have gadgets. For staying in touch with the rest of the world, he explained. Even at school, Trevor was the guy who had the latest gadgets, the latest Pac-Man, the latest Walkman, the latest Commodore 64 and push-button phone. Meanwhile, I was still yearning for the circular dial.
For this trip, Trevor brought along a complete arsenal of hi-technology that could easily double as props for a Michael Bay movie. There was the handphone, but this one could shoot an entire movie and came with a wireless ear-plug that looked like a souped-up hearing aid. Then there was the laptop that mad binging noises every time something exciting, like an email, happened. Then, there was the Kindle. And an iPod. And a pair of noise-cancelling earphones to drown out exterior sounds like the airplane drone and my plaintive pleas to explain how the thing worked.
And nothing is more exciting than arriving at the hotel to find there aren’t enough sockets to plug in all the chargers for all the gadgets. You would think, would you not, that in this day and age of multi-tasking that there would be one charger for everything? But, no. Each and every gadget had its own loop and tangle of wires, plugs, spare batteries and clunky adaptors.
“Why do you need all this stuff?” I asked, watching Trevor unpack with the military precision of an ex-SAS commando. “What could possibly happen to the world that you won’t find out about in 6 o’clock news?”
“I’m supposed to explain this to someone who is still struggling with predictive text?” came the gruff reply. I sulked for the rest of the day.
Which explains why I wanted the iPad Air so badly. I needed it like a cow needs to be milked. Because it promised to deliver me from my electronic ignorance. Because even old people could use it!
I got a pair of socks and a 2014 diary from Popular Bookshop.
It’s no wonder Saffy, Amanda and I are barely talking to one another.

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