Wednesday 6 August 2008

Thoroughly outclassed

14st 1lb; 6.4 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,278; Trinity Gardens.

This morning I went to the local computer shop with my defunct desktop box, less in the hope of having it repaired than of being able to extricate the information I had failed to back up; which mercifully, to the best of my recollection, consisted only of Outlook Express e-mail messages, most no doubt of staggering banality. I wandered into the middle of an apparently interminable conversation involving Windows Defender and Google Earth, which was so mind-bogglingly dull that, for the first time in my life, I found myself wishing that someone would start talking about football instead. Eventually I managed to explain what I was after. I then made the mistake of mentioning that I intended to give in to years of peer pressure and buy a Mac as my replacement computer. The lightly bearded proprietor of the shop laughed heartily, and his heavily bearded customer joined in, molto fortissimo. When I asked what was so funny about that, the proprietor explained in a pitying sort of way that if I had a problem with my Mac and tried to discuss it in the pub, 99 out of 100 people would turn away. Whereas discussing the uselessness of Microsoft would fill many a happy evening.

I did not like to point out that I had never yet felt that computer problems might be an appropriate or entertaining topic for conversation in the boozer. Nor was I ever likely to do so. So I kept shtoom and bought a USB hub (a) because I had needed one for ages, and (b) because it showed my willingness to support small, local businesses. The worrying feature of the transaction was that, when I tried to pay for it, I found I could not remember the PIN of the credit card I use every day. Clearly this must go down on the record as the day when I first realized that I had Alzheimer’s.

I drove to Newcastle and bought lunch for two fellow columnists from the local paper, and our editor. The 25-stone Friday columnist luckily claimed to be on a diet, as he was scheduled to attend a service of blessing for his son’s recent marriage to an African, at which the dress code was Ghanaian. He did have a suitable costume, but unfortunately it was “skin tight – I look like a pork and leek sausage”. It did not take much of an effort of imagination to picture that. The Monday columnist was full of today’s press launch of his new dating show, and kept having to excuse himself to take phone calls from vital industry publications. The editor, meanwhile, had been making an impressive series of media appearances to defend Northern Rock, arguing – incontrovertibly, I would have thought – that no-one had died. I felt very much outclassed. And, after I had nipped out to the gents and listened to a phone message reporting that no data could be retrieved from the knackered hard drive of my computer, I felt somewhat depressed into the bargain.

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