The sapping of life’s ambition by extraneous technology, let’s start there…
I have given up on the clever phone I had.
It goaded me too often, and now its screen is cracked.
For many years, a phone that could do calls, texts, and an occasional game of snake was quite enough. Then, at the lurid, shiny, consumer bazaar of some phone shop, I was persuaded to buy a Blackberry. It must have been around the time they had been officially declared not the thing to have as I doggedly, and quite unconsciously, go in quite the opposite direction of fashion.
The problem with new and pointless things is that they offer access to all manner of things you happily survived without, but within minutes, the necessity of instantaneous Twitter access, a camera, (“look that shop has a funny name”, “a cloud shaped like Walter Matthau”, “oops, how many photos of the pavement have I taken? I better not delete them now though, they have become part of my life experience”), and an app that advises you on the proximity of noodle bars, means life is unthinkable without them.
Where once you read others’ words on a train, now you just read your status updates – “still on a train”, “woman in front of me has said thing just shy of being worthy of Alan Bennett dialogue”, “dropped phone in toilet, not sure if it is working, please reply if you can see this tweet”, “so lonely, so very lonely”…
So many manufactured consumables offer too much. They say, “imagine your world like this”, and it looks so like the future suggested to you on TV science fiction shows and in comic strips that you can’t say no. For a few moments, sometimes days, you are cock a hoop. “Hey, look what my thing does. You just wave it over this bar code and then the speaker in the phone makes all your callers sound like William Shatner”. Then, when it stops working,you are furious, far more furious than you were joyous when you first got it. Your unneeded thing has become the spike of your aggression. If it had never offered you so much, you would not have missed it, but now it has met its built in obsolescence so hastily, your walls have fist dents in them and you are on the cusp of aneurysm. (wifi printers are my bane. I could have survived with the antiquated, mediaeval muddle of a lead, but they offered me something so neat, and something with more ways of saying, “sorry, something is awry, and you are powerless”)
On returning to a phone that is a phone, I found the first few hours twitchful. My train stopped at Cheddington due to a lightning strike, and there was no virtual world to share it with. Later, stuck in the damp air around Platform 6 of Milton Keynes Central, I though of something that seemed pithy and within 140 characters, but I would have to let it fester in my mind. An opportunity for retweets lost. Should I be taking notes of all the tweets I had thought of, and then flood my account when I got to the Premier Inn? Letting them fester was better. My necessity of online distraction was torn from me, and I was reading books. Pencils scribbling in margins. Ideas that would have been junked as just another status update now swum around for longer, some grew, some died. I see no end to the addiction, but the enforced cold turkey, the jittery enforced hours of keeping my thoughts mine, may come in handy. Or, as I am also reading a book about reality, it might be the thing that finally pushes me over the edge. I think the audience at South St Arts in Reading may have got a hint of that.
Now, time to get rid of the laptop and get out my old Remington typewriter. Then, with multitudinous carbon paper, I will type out my blog posts and deliver them by hand on my Penny-Farthing.
next tour dates are Swindon, Cheltenham, Newport, Swansea, Newcastle, Hull, Glasgow, Edinburgh and plenty more (Autumn date announced soon) plus two works in progresses and Angry shows with Michael Legge in York, Leeds – all dates HERE
latest DVD (three hours long and new technology that makes it play randomly and strangely) HERE