Back in the day we used to take the mickey out of our parents for being so useless at working their video recorders (I did, anyway). Before BBC i-player and all the other channel equivalents, before Hulu and YouTube and Netflix and Apple TV and the rest of the stuff that’s out there now that I don’t even know about, we used to have to rely on VCRs [still don’t know what that ‘C’ in the middle stands for?] to record the telly we didn’t want to miss because we were out for the night or away. Do you remember that there was once a time when you could only set your video to record one programme? So, if you went on holiday for a couple of weeks in the middle of a gripping drama series on one channel and, say, had a regular soap habit on another, you had to get a relay of friends and family to tape them for you. And you had to ensure the tape was rewound to the beginning, and it wasn’t the one that had your favourite film on it. If they messed up, which our parents inevitably did, it was just tough shit. We didn’t have computers or anything more sophisticated than a Sony Walkman to listen to music on, but if we had I’m sure we’d’ve been equally disdainful about their technophobia in these things too.
Well. Now I kind of know how they must’ve felt. My techy ineptitude is not in the field of recording (only because we don’t need to be able to do that these days, you can just find what you missed any old place, sometimes legally, sometimes illegally). No, my incompetence lies in the interweb of, not the information superhighway, no!, but of leads and chargers and plugs and USBs and all this connectivity paraphernalia.
We are packing our house up, ready to move from Houston back to England. I have to decide what we don’t need at all anymore, what we need but can do without for six weeks while it’s bobbing over the Atlantic, and what we absolutely can’t do without in the meantime.
The meantime includes time in the States plus time in the UK. Hot here. Changeable there. Can do Houston Summer and English Summer clothing, easily. But, iPods here, iPods there? iPads here, iPads there? MacBooks here, MacBooks there? Samsung here, Samsung there? Garmin here, Garmin there? Canon camera here, Canon camera there? Kindle here, Kindle there. And on and on and on. All this? C’est compliqué!
Even without the move I have massive connectivity issues. All those different chargers! Some look like they’re going to fit, they’re the same colour (black or white) and appear to be the right size, but no, they’re not quite. Some work with multiple devices. “WHERE’S MY BLOODY PHONE CHARGER?” is not an unusual thing to hear bellowing from me around our house, because it works for R’s iPod too so, apparently, it’s ok to just take it away when he’s mislaid his. Occasionally it’s wherever I last was charging my own phone [there is, admittedly, the occasional senior moment ingredient on my part, along with the need for readers, of course, which are never where you left them, possibly part of the seniority problem, and which you must have to look more closely at said charger to see if it fits your phone]. But, in the main, it’s actually not us (the parents), it’s them (the kids). We have a drawerful of leads, blocky piles of USBs into plugs into adaptors, quite a range of cables hanging out of the back of the desk-top, a whole other sub-section of car connectivity kit – for the sat nav, for the iPods, to charge the phones. A weave of wires which they can’t keep neatly, and they mix and match incessantly yet somehow seamlessly.
And then, with the move, there are the same connectivity issues PLUS adaptors and transformers and the freaking iTunes account. Add to the mix a glass of wine in hand as the final evening before the packers descend draws ever closer to its end, and my flitting between the major task in hand to Wimbledon on the screen to sitting here writing this, and there’s potentially a dangerous tangle of technology looming.
The desk-top is going in the freight while pretty much all the rest of the computer-y stuff is sticking right with us. And that means, I have decided, so is everything in sight that’s on the end of a lead or could be (apart from the neighbours’ dog). There might well be a tangle, and I’m fairly sure I won’t be able to unravel it, but I’m not gonna be the one responsible for the early 21st century equivalent of video recording malfunction and the subsequent offspring disdain.
“So”, I will say to my darlings, “when you’ve found what you’re looking for, will you just……. well, y’know, connect me too? Just while you’re at it? Oh! Need a lead? It’s in that zip-loc bag right there, definitely, somewhere.”
Just off right this minute to make sure that zip-loc is in the ‘DON’T PACK’ pile…