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And another thing …

Arthur Nelson struggles on regardless

Raging against the modern world – particularly modern technology – seems to be coming a way of life for your truly.

My previous venture onto the pages of the National Rust was all to do with the practice of organisations (both commercial and otherwise) telephoning individuals out of the blue to try and sell them something they don’t need, or didn’t even know they had in the first place – or just get them to pay bills quicker than otherwise they might.

How do they obtain your phone number – and what gives them the right or indeed the ‘balls’ to contact anyone like this – especially at the most ill-timed possible moment, e.g. just as you’ve taken the second mouthful of your evening meal and/or are watching a vital stage of today’s edition of Pointless – let alone old people who are perhaps more vulnerable than most?

Actually I know the answer to the latter, it’s because history has demonstrated to these bastards that, if you ‘junk call’, you get fruitful responses from maybe 5% of  those contacted … and if you contact 1,000 people per day, that can be profitable ‘work’.

My most recent annoying brush with modernity came in the middle of Saturday afternoon over the weekend.

Having dealt with a number of domestic chores, attended to my correspondence, even done a food shop and laundry run, I settled down at my laptop to do really I knew not what.

After about ten minutes’ contemplation I noticed, not for the first time, the dirty nature of the screen – it was covered with enough spots, blemishes and detritus that sometimes in the past I had thought I must have typed a full stop or comma when I hadn’t done either. With so much hard work accomplished and contentment achieved already over the weekend, I figured, why not another notch on my belt? I knew that I’d bought a pack of ‘computer cleaning stuff’ two or three years ago, located it is my stationery cupboard and brought it out. There were two spray tins inside – one was a ‘surface cleaner’ and the other a ‘screen cleaner’. I sprayed the first on the keyboard and surrounding surfaces, the second on the screen, took the cloth and then began working it in with a certain amount of gusto.

laptopAll good so far.

Until I ‘worked’ my mouse back and forth in order to ‘wake the laptop up’. For, when this was done, and the screen came up as hoped-for, it was aligned sideways, with the ‘signing in’ letterbox vertically up the screen. Plainly, in rubbing the cloth over the keyboards including the keys, I must have inadvertently pressed the key [one of those ‘F3′ or F4’ keys along the top row?] that caused this ‘sideways’ alignment of the screen. I tried turning the laptop sideways, in case – like a smartphone – it would recognise the ‘change in tilt’ and rectify itself automatically. I then tried pressing every F-numbered key, including in combination with that marked ‘Control’ … neither of them worked.

I then tried tapping the keyboard at random and then the other stand-by refuge of ‘non-techno man’ – shouting at the infernal contraption.


In desperation – why do these things always happen to me, I spend my entire life trying to bother nobody and have nobody bother me? – I unplugged the laptop and walked it around the corner to my little local computer shop. I was sure that the guy there would simply smile, press a key or button, hand me the laptop back with a smile whilst saying “There you go, squire, you owe me next time …” and I’d go away feeling slightly foolish but nevertheless immensely satisfied with the restoration of normal service.

shopNot a bit of it. Instead it was a case of a laborious ‘signing in’ of my laptop, address and contact numbers and walking out having paid a ‘diagnostic fee’ of £36 plus VAT (I think it was £44 in total), plus a parting shot of “The earliest we can have this done is late Monday afternoon” and the admonition that I should never allow liquid to get into a computer’s workings, or even between the keys, because that could wreck it permanently.

All had I wanted to do was clean my laptop’s screen of probably four years’ worth of dust and filth!

And if you must never allow liquid to get into a computer’s workings, why the hell does the computer industry run a service selling ‘surface cleaner’ and ‘screen surface’ sprays?!!?

Is it so that their fellow IT experts running little local shops in London can gain lucrative scraps of revenue ‘sorting out the messes’ that these sprays cause unsuspecting customers?

Worse than that, there was a hint in my conversation over the shop’s counter that potentially this problem could even have buggered my laptop’s innards and the data files inside might be irretrievable. That doesn’t bear thinking about. I haven’t ‘backed up’ my workings for over a year and there’s a lot of vital stuff in there.

This is the trouble with dealing with technology problems you know nothing about. What’s to stop the computer shop man waiting until I’d gone out, restarting my laptop, pressing some ‘return to normal’ button … and then waiting three days – and charging me another £120 – whilst blathering a load of techno-guff at me explaining the intricate and delicate specialist work he’s had to do on it?

Since then, of course, I’ve caught myself in the act of ‘going to my computer’ for some small task or another ten or more times, only to remember that I don’t have it any longer.

Ah well …. I suppose it’s just a case of ‘finger crossed’ for this afternoon …




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About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts