Falling behind in life’s race
Arthur Nelson on modern world frustrations
There is or was a smallish – by which I mean A5-sized – magazine called The Chap. It has about it the air of a foppish 1950s-style gentleman’s publication produced by a clique of like-minded ex-public schoolboys as a vanity project with no regard for popular success, i.e. just the sort of thing that my mates and I used to attempt about forty years ago.
It has echoes about it of the Blandings series, based upon the P.G. Wodehouse books, now showing early on Sunday evenings on BBC1 – albeit from a different era.
It’s about a world in which young chaps of a certain background and style have no work or money worries and concern themselves mostly with country suits, drinking cocktails, driving two-seater sports cars and progressing through a never-ending series of parties and good times.
You might say less hopelessly out of touch with the modern world, more an expression of aspiration.
Perhaps someone like fogeyish Jacob Rees-Mogg, Tory MP for North-East Somerset, might be a founder-member and a target reader.
As a senior citizen, I can see where the publishers are coming from, because – as I get older – I’m conscious that the modern world, constantly developing new technologies and fads faster than I can cope with them, is gradually leaving me behind.
Here I must declare an interest, or is it a ‘non-interest’? I’ve never been practical or technologically-minded.
In my previous house, I only discovered where the gas meter was located (under the stairs) when we came to sell it and the estate agent asked – my late wife had dealt with that sort of thing.
I possess a washing-machine but never use it, preferring to take my washing items to the local launderette, from where it miraculously emerges once a week, clean and ironed.
It was as late as yesterday, when talking to my brother’s wife, that I discovered for the first time that one is supposed to get one’s central heating boiler and system serviced annually – which would explain quite a bit about my current central-heating problems.
I find mobile phones and computers constantly frustrating.
Last year, after pressure from my kids, I swapped my bog-standard mobile for an HTC One smartphone.
This, I was assured, would bring me at least into the last century, if not the present one.
I could take high-definition photographs, go on-line, do my emails and stay in touch with the world whilst on the move. It would be fun.
Six months later, I still use my smartphone exclusively for phoning and texting. The only difference from my previous phone is that I am about £35 a month worse off, which is why I am contemplating returning to the Vodafone shop this week and seeing if it is possible to revert back to it.
Nothing is more frustrating than my computer. Only this morning, about ten minutes after I’d fired it up, a box came up in the bottom right corner of the screen, announcing that Windows needed to reconfigure and my options were ‘restarting’ immediately or waiting and having it re-start automatically in 14 minutes and counting down. My choice would have been to do neither, but I duly closed the work I had open and pressed ‘restart immediately’, simply to get the process over with … thereby, of course, completely losing my train of thought on what I had come to the computer to work on.
I keep getting ‘thank you’ messages for renewing or upgrading software package subscriptions that I didn’t even know I had. No wonder Bill Gates and the Facebook chap – whose names escapes me and whose service I do not belong to – are so rich. It’s all on the back of people like me, who are being fleeced without even knowing how or why.
At least in the days when you did everything on a typewriter, the infernal machine only ever did exactly what you asked it to do.
Working in Microsoft Word, when you wish to begin a series of indentations and/or numbered sub-paragraphs, it’s about a random 50:50 chance as to whether the software will allow you to do so in the manner you wish. Mostly, it responds by choosing a sub-paragraph structure of its own which – inevitably – you specifically didn’t want.
I’ve written before on the phenomenon in which, as we age, we first struggle to keep up with the world’s technological developments … but later, gradually come to accept that this is an impossible quest and therefore relax, no longer caring that we are ‘falling off the pace’, which resignation (by definition) naturally hastens our descent into senility.
The causes of choosing today’s subject are a couple of article on The Guardian website that I spotted today, which illustrate my point exactly.
See here for an excellent piece by CHARLIE BROOKER
See here for a report intriguing new smartphone app, not that I’m really sure what an app is, by … EMER O’TOOLE