Friday, 3 August 2012


My battle with the New Age makes a flash in the pan of the Hundred Years War. I have had a calendar watch for twenty years and I still cannot set the date. My Weather Master refused to disclose the temperature. I tend to wander off in department stores whilst my wife chooses the clothes she will inevitably return on her next visit. I have had four mobile phones to summon help but have not so far been able to make a call.jThe all-singing, all dancing scanner/printer won't but the Digital Voice Recorder seemed a gift from heaven. Speak your thoughts and watch them appear as if by magic on your manuscript.
Simply a matter of slipping in the CD provided, following the instructions which will appear on your screen and it's away dulled digit. Except that it wasn’t. The process defeated two highly trained computer mechanics when I failed. I took wider advice. Upgrade it, I was advised. So I set aside Dragon Speaking 10 and bought Dragon Speaking 11 CD.
That didn’t work either so I contacted Amazon for a refund. No can do, said Amazon. You have already opened the envelope. I wondered how I could have found out it was the wrong software without opening the envelope. But I contacted Nuance who supply the software and a nice chap said, “What software have you got?” and I told him with quiet pride I not only had Software 10 but I had also paid £40 for software 11, and he said “Well neither is any good.” Olympus had given me the wrong software, he said. But obliging chap that he was, he offered to download software 10.1 which he said was the appropriate CD, and he did.
I keyed it in and clicked where ordered. At first everything went as promised and then I was instructed to key in my customer number and it was rejected. I tried again and again. I was rejected. All over the next two days I tried and was rejected again and again.
At this point I must have lost my nerve because I went scurrying back to a nice lady at Nuance with whom by this time I was on Christian name terms. She very kindly tried the download herself and said it had worked for her. So I went back to the keyboard and this time a notice appeared saying it was a zip file and if I would press the download button all would be well. So I pressed the download button and got a notice saying if I would press another download button my problems would be over.
At this point my typing finger objected. It said it was working harder than ever and I had told it how I was going to make things easier for it. I was in no mood for argument so I rapped its knuckle and it went on its weary way. This time pressing the button brought a notice from someone called Reg Work, saying there were 165 errors on the machine and offering, very sportingly, to clear things up with a free trial. Up to this time there had been a noticeable shortage of gift horses so with a glad cry I complied. And that pressure on a button brought a bill for £34, which I thought might be my one finger getting its own back, but I paid and got another button telling me that my life would be made easy if I backed up my files. By now I was too weak to demur and that cost me another ten quid. I forget what the next tempting offer was but I know that when I had accepted it I was down £100 over a five-minute involuntary spending spree. So I emailed my friend Flora on Nuance in a craven bid for sympathy.
She obviously had summed up my degree of technical expertise by this time because she said probably the best idea would be to ask Olympus who sold the recorder to send me a CD 10.1 which would get round the problem with ease.
And there the matter has ended and I await the next email with a nervous Cousteau-like twitch.
Except that I got an email from some one called Trial Play telling me that my Winzip software was ready and if I would press the download below it would be delivered. I pressed the download and nothing happened. By this time I was whimpering noisily so I emailed Trial Play support and back came an email quick as a flash. It said they would answer my esteemed enquiry in 48 hours.
At which point I broke into song, a reedy tenor with nervous gulps: “I’ll join the Legion, that’s what I’ll do....and in some far distant region I’ll fight for the right .....” but the rest of that stirring aria from the Red Shadow was drowned in melancholy.
Long ago when the world was still grown up - say until the 1950’s - there were Yanks and Red Indians, Paddies and Jocks, Taffs and Eyties, Frogs and Krauts, and God Botherers and Left Footers.
Unthinkable in these enlightened times when, according to a Broadcasting Standards Survey we once debated on my radio programme “The Big Idea”, Jew and Spastic are now serious swear words.

But in that terrible past old ladies were not frightened to leave their homes nor beaten to death in them. Teachers taught, and education had not yet been replaced by theories of how it should be done. Few schoolchildren were illiterate, hardly any pregnant, and Foreign Secretaries paid for their mistresses on trips. It wasn’t a capital offence to be a catholic or a protestant.

There was still a wicked British Empire - but Africa had not collapsed into anarchy. You could turn on a radio or a TV set without being greeted with a mouthful of obscenities and eroticism was conveyed, not photographed. Governments dealt only in major issues and you could trust local councils to repair the drains.

Christmas started in December and parents, not children, decided what clothes they wore. At school, uniforms were universal so that poorer children would not be sartorially embarrassed by richer classmates. You did not have to be fit to risk going to hospital, where you are now likely to come out with more germs than you were admitted with.

The police hadn’t discovered how much easier life was if they confined their attentions to respectable taxpayers and £2,000 was the fine for running a brothel, not (as in the fairly recent past) for selling an oxtail. I am not sure that even then you could leave your keys in your car or your front door. But there was hardly a shop with an iron grille and aspirin was the strongest drug.

There were even people sufficiently familiar with our historic past to know - as I keep having to point out - that “welshing” was an insult to the English, not the Welsh. In medieval Wales, English law was confined to the castle towns. In the countryside outside, Welsh law prevailed. Vide, place names like Welsh Frankton. English traders who got into debt in the castle towns would abscond to the “Welshery” and were said to have “welshed”.

In 1924, in his fine book “In Search of Wales”, H.V Morton pointed out there was no blame for the Welsh either in the famous lampoon “Taffy was a Welshman...” The rhyme is a corruption of a Low Dutch lampoon on priests whose tall black hats were called Tayfs.

.......... And God spoke unto Adam and He said:
"Why does it take you so long to come to the phone?"
Adam said: "Have you seen the size of this garden?
Also I wish you would have a word with that angel you sent
with a blazing sword. I've got scorch marks on the dahlias and
the heat is bringing on the chrysanths too early........"
God said: "The Angel is Security and outside
my remit.
But there has obviously been a mistake.
He shouldn't be there till apple picking....... "

God said: "I wanted Dobermans but Finance
estimate an overall saving with flames that is very impressive.
It's something they picked up from the Competition.
We are working on garden staffing levels.
Research and Development were going to let you invent the
plough, then we planned electricity
which I personally am very excited about and cannot wait to
create Farraday."

Adam said: "Talk is cheap. When do I get to invent the

God said: "R and D have come up with this new concept.
Run it up the tree trunk and see if it flaps."

Adam said;: "God,sometimes you say things which are a mystery
to me...."

God said: "Goes with the territory. But
about this R and D idea. It will do the gardening; it's an
entertainment concept and does home nursing. R and D are working
on a modem called sex which completely
does away with the spare rib method I originally planned.
It will need a User Manual. I'm thinking of calling it
the Ten Commandments."

Adam said: "Does this machine have a name?"

God said: "What's in a name,as Shakespeare is
going to say. We were going to call it a slave and then a
skivvy but Marketing said names like that give off the wrong
vibes, consumer-wise. So what we finally came up with was

What takes the Woe out of Man....Woman. Neat,eh?
Copywriting and Graphics reckon we could achieve a 98 per
cent penetration of A and AB markets."

Adam said: "I want an assurance from management that this
woman machine will never be programmed to take executive

And God spoke and He said: "Thursday already? I have to
go. I have two days creating before my rest day...."
And He rang off.

It was only later when Eve harvested the
apples and there was this Leak from
Head Office about relocation that Adam remembered he had
been given no guarantees about negative parity for the woman

And Adam was sore afraid.