Unsung Heroes

I am nearing the end of a protracted battle to migrate from Apple back to PC. Or at least it seems like I am nearing the end. I really, really hope I am. It should be all over by Christmas at least. Shouldn’t it?

The events of the last three months are still too raw to relate to you in full, and I fear shall only be properly explored with the aid of a qualified psychiatrist, but suffice to say that our collective love affair with technology seems a very one-sided and unhealthy infatuation. In the end, I paid a man in a local computer shop a not insignificant sum to tell me how foolish I had been in so many respects, and then spent the next month attempting to re-order his scattergun approach to my data transfer.

For the record, our continued dependence on what we call Information Technology is one of the greatest mysteries of mankind. Stonehenge has nothing compared to the accumulated wastage of millions of hours every day trying to resolve conflicts after the latest upgrade, or repair the global template. Then we compound the mistake by losing days in (you guessed it) internet forums (if the sodding broadband will allow us) where we can commiserate with other wretched souls and glean fixes that then lose us further days, if not weeks. It has become a modern-day version of solitaire or the crossword, only thousands of times more expensive.

Yet somehow these technological miscreants avoid being thrown on the scrapheap of history. Day after day, we return to pray at the shrine of the fluorescent, rectangular deity, faith restored by nothing more than a few hours sleep and a vat of wine. In fact, many of us spend as much time each day with technology as we do in our bed. Imagine if you had to wait for half an hour before getting into bed because it was ‘installing updates’, or were required to phone a premium rate number to discover that to ‘resolve a host issue’ you have to turn it off and on again.

And don’t think household items are exempt from this malaise just because they are not electronic. The plumbing under the kitchen sink, sensing that I was at a low ebb following the computer fiasco, yesterday threw its first wobbly in a year. Except that its sabotage was by stealth, and I only noticed that the bottom shelf resembled a swimming pool after it had soaked everything in the vicinity. I began to wonder why, despite my occasional interventions, the waste pipes were still sporadically acting-out their Bellagio fountains routine.

And then I worked it out. The chimpanzee that installed it decided that instead of purchasing the correct part to fit the space, he would hacksaw down the part he had and bodge it from there. In effect, he designed a system that would more randomly wreak its devastation than a roulette table. I shan’t name names, but if you search for ‘monkey plumber’ on Checkatrade I’m sure you’ll find him.

Unsung heroes

Unsung heroes

However, there are some unsung heroes of our modern lives that perform, day in day out, without fame or fanfare. Take my nail clippers. Or rather, don’t take them. They’re about the only thing in this house that consents to work on a regular basis (other than The Wife, for which I remain extremely grateful, although I’m beginning to think she’s just trying to avoid the regular carnage at home).

They sit patiently in the bathroom cabinet, mute and unassuming. They don’t complain when I ignore them for a while, or savage my nails in a fit of pique when I eventually rediscover them. Occasionally they embark on an extended game of hide and seek, but that probably has more to do with user error than any malevolent intention on their part. They never drop the connection or run out of battery. I don’t have to regularly upgrade my fingers in order to use them. No man in any clipper-repair shop has ever shaken his head at me about their purchase.

Let us all take a moment, in this frenetic world full of anguish and ineptitude, to recognise the achievements of the silent army of objects that work every single time – the kettle and the toaster, the spoon and the bottle opener, the sofa and the towel. And most of all, the humble nail clippers:– I salute you! Now, let’s see if I can get my blasted computer to post this blog in less than an hour….