Costs and Incidentals by Charlotte bennie

My daisy player has died. Naturally, I went through all the correct palaver. Pressed all its buttons, in several combinations. Turned it off and on. Shouted a lexicon of sweary words at it; in English, Scots and Latin. Finally, I sat on the sofa and had a guid greet. None of this worked and, as I was about to go on holiday and had plenty of other things to do, I unplugged it yet again and left it be. In the faint hope it, like me, just needed a wee rest. However, once returned and refreshed, going through those procedures yet again still achieved nothing. It was silent. Deid. By now, husband had discovered a date on it; I’d been listening to it for almost 13 years, so it had done extremely well. So began the trouble and fash of researching for its replacement. Naturally, this was the very afternoon; muggy with torrential showers of thunder rain, when the internet decided to throw one of its tirravees. Once fired up, the Big Computer made it clear he wasnae playing. Occasionally, he hiccupped out a few e mails, but that was the limit of his cooperation. Google became circular. Web sites, while announcing their existence, refused to download. Eventually, after spending a fruitless age with both computer and I Phone, I’d one of my rare Eureka moments. Why not use the phone? And not any phone, why not use the land line! Several calls later, I’d all the information I needed. Prices, models, specifications. It was all depressing. While everyone else I know can amble down to the library. Yes, we still have one! And borrow books for zilch. I would have to shell out a large wodge of dosh to indulge the same interest. So much for all the EU guff on human rights, including our right to read. And, before anyone scoffs and says anything about just downloading my books straight from the RNIB onto my IPhone, let me remind you I live in the depths of rural Scotland. Where, as I’ve just described, the internet frequently says No. I’ve no wish to listen to a enjoyably gruesome piece of tartan noir, then discover the final denouement hadn’t downloaded. Leaving me ignorant of which of a range of bam pots Had Dun It. Imagine, working through forty odd hours of one of the Outlander novels, only to be left in the dark as to whether Claire had jumped back to modern times through that stone circle or was still stuck out there, unwashed and probably in a state of dishabille, in the 18th century. As the rain had now passed, Miss pupkin and I went for a free run up in the woods. She bounced about, checking on pee mail; I stood on the path, swithering. I’d no option. Not if I wanted to enjoy my books and magazines. To be honest, I’m grateful the technology exists which makes reading so easy. Having learned braille as an adult, I’m slow. I find it invaluable for instructions such as my recipe books but I don’t find reading for enjoyment actually enjoyable. However, I think of Talking Books as an unsung and over looked Art Form; a good reader adds so much more to a book.  I just pray the washing machine doesn’t decide to expire in the next few months. For many, buying the gadgets which make life more tholable is a constant worry. Talking microwaves, bathroom scales which shout your weight to everyone within earshot, headphones which give clear, unfuzzy sound. All come at a price. Often, in conversation with the public, non blinkie, that is, a remark will be made which makes it clear, even in these days of austerity, it is assumed that They provide me with everything necessary to live a fairly normal life. Talking I phone, shouting kitchen equipment, computer with screen reader. Not only do folk assume this, they think it is a basic right. I’d love to know who They actually are, because I’ve never met them. These generous providers of all things technological and expensive. So, if anyone knows how I can contact Them, these providers of all gadgetry, could you please send me the details? Best to do this by phone, though. In case the internet is having yet another of its bouts of non communication. 

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