Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Trouble with Technology...

16 weeks pregnant now, and I've finally stopped being sick, am eating normally again, and generally feeling much better.

OK, so the week I just spent by beautiful Coniston Water in the Lake District probably helped - it's not all that far from where I grew up; I still get all misty-eyed at the sight of a good dry stone wall...

Whilst the holiday was great, it did sort out my views about some of the technology and gadgets we have grown used to in our 21st century everyday lives. I've reached an age now where I've become considerably less tolerant of new gadgets; if I've survived this long without one, then the chances are that I will happily continue to do so.

It's not that I'm a technophobe, far from it; just that I believe the maxim 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should' is particularly relevant where technology is concerned.

When I was younger and single, I owned a car that looked a lot like this. It was crap, but we had lots of fun together.

Preparation for a long journey involved the following essential tasks:

1. Throw my favourite music tapes in.

2. Spend 10 minutes looking at the map, write down all road numbers, junctions and directions on an index card, and prop up on dashboard.

3. Put map in car, just in case...

4. Pack and go.

Fast forward 8 years, forget about the nightmare which is packing to take a toddler away for a week, and we have the following scenario.

1. Husband spends 2 hours faffing about on iTunes and creating special journey playlists on the iPod, containing a random shuffle of fairly selected tracks from our favourite CDs.

2. Husband spends a further 2 hours programming a variety of journey routes into satellite navigation system.

3. Rest of packing completed by me, much swearing ensues...

Lets start with the iPod. Normally, I wouldn't be without it, but for a long car journey I'm prepared to make an exception. Trying to listen to my beautiful new birthday present CD of Carlos Mena singing Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus for the first time, on random shuffle, interspersed with songs by Porcupine Tree is well...try to imagine ripping out the pages from your favourite literary classic, throwing them in the air along with the same number of pages from something by John Grisham, and then trying to read the collected result.

If the literary analogy doesn't do it for you, then please imagine how it would feel to be offered a dish of your very favourite meal, personally cooked for you by Gordon Ramsay, and then told that you must eat it with a toothpick, washing down each mouthful with a shot of vinegar, and you're somewhere close. Ipod, I say No.

And then there's the SatNav/GPS/bossy little box that sits on your dashboard and directs you to your destination. Those things irritate the hell out of me. Maybe it's just a man thing, but why on earth is it necessary to have the thing switched on, giving you orders and bleeping away at you for the entirety of a 300 mile journey, when it's only the last 25 miles that you don't already know!

Madam Bossy Boots SatNav does have one or two slight advantages over the old 'wife with a map' routine. She doesn't get carsick after about three minutes of looking at her map, and she doesn't shout at the driver. Originally, I thought that her presence would reduce the number of car rows we had, but now we just argue about whether or not she is going to get us home, or deposit us, cackling with spite, on top of some godforsaken fell, populated only by a herd of large and extremely self-assured sheep.

At least my eyes can tell the difference between a road and a bridleway, without recourse to a map. Of course by this point we were so thoroughly lost as to be unable to locate ourselves on the perfectly good paper map that I will be sticking with from now on.

I can't help it - I'm just an old-fashioned girl. Technology has its rightful place in our lives, but a holiday in the back of beyond isn't one of them.

In other news - we are quickly moving towards exchanging contracts on the new house (please keep everything crossed for us) and our vet says that the dog is too fat and has to lose 2 kilos. I'm actually quite embarrassed by that last one.