The Good, the Bad and the downright embarrassing by Charlotte Bennie

My first talking mobile was a revelation. No, a revolution. A Nokia the shape and size of my palm, where I pecked out text messages via its numeric key board, tapping a key several times until it announced the required letter. I sent texts; the calendar reminded me of where I was meant to be and why; I even made notes. Going round the Asda in Carlisle, listening to it announce the uigredients for the Chrisstmas cake. My first shopping list in years. Down the street, loaded with shopping, I’d find the number for a taxi and phone. Often performing this before an admiring audience. All of an age where using a mobile entailed footering around for the correct specs. Not me! I merely stood there, listening. The mean Marine voice unintelligible to others, unaccustomed as they were to talking watches, screen readers and kitchen scales, so I’d no worries I was broadcasting a friend’s ex directory details to all and sundry. 

After years of general disorganisation, a semblance of order and independence had returned. Best of all, this particular Nokia was considered the coolest of cool. Nephews used the model, albeit silently. There I was, up there, at the forefront of techno wizardry.
Until, the wee devil trumpeted the arrival of a text while I was participating in the Minister’s Bible Study class. Just as well I was the only person who could understand the thing. Those nephews had decided it would be a bit of a laugh to ping off a text to their douce, Scottish Auntie. A text listing synonyms for bottom! Of course, being basically decent chaps, they did finish with an apology; hoping I wasn’t anywhere too public when I read it. I should have known. These same lads, on a summer visit, had found my talking tin lids. Remember them? Instead of announcing, “Soup. Tomato.” Or “Peaches. Sliced.” They now emitted burps, hiccups and worse. Loudly.
It isn’t just talking gadgets. It’s the whole internet thing. I don’t know what others use this for, as far as I’m concerned, it keeps me up to date with news and it’s a grand way to do shopping. Having lived most of my life in the Back of Beyond, long distance shopping is nothing new; I grew up with what my Aunts called the Club Book. It was truly a deprivation, no longer being able to spend a dreich afternoon, browsing through a catalogue; devising my version of current fashion. Between them, the internet and the screen reader have restored this. Being simplified, apps on my current talking phone, an I Phone, since you ask, usually make things even easier. However, every so often, glitches raise the blood pressure. Especially when attempting to find my way round a web site, rather than an app.
Take this morning. An e mail had announced the winter sale on the official site for those traditional cookers was ending. You know the ones; there’s the posh version, whose name rhymes with saga and the one folk such as me have, whose name sounds like a Scottish painter. If I wanted
to stock up for approaching birthdays; squirrel stuff away for Christmas, after all, it’s only 11 months away;this was it. A marvellous machine; I never have to worry about turning it off as it’s always on. And, it doesn’t just cook; central heating, hot water, drying the washing, defrosting the cat. For Guide Dog Owners, there’s even a range of accessories decorated with dinky Labradors. But I digress. Suffice to say, whenever there’s a sale of accessories on the web site, prices plummet. Bringing the classy but expensive downto something more manageable.
There I was. Attempting to order oven gloves. Multi striped ones. Two pairs. I tried, And more tried. Each time I tapped the Add to basket button, this machine shouted “Disabled”. A senior moment had taken over. I’d forgotten I now had to proceed to check out, before ordering my next item. Instead, I tapped about; closed down the site and reloaded it. Eventually, I capitulated and shouted for assistance. Husband appeared, settled in my chair, scanned the screen. Then, asked why I was ordering 13 pairs of oven gloves. Excellent they may be but surely this was taking simplicity in gift selection a bit far?
Having done his white knight rescuing daft damsel from the jaws of the internet, he left me to wheech off the order. Almost immediately, the e mail pinged. Order confirmation. I made Supernova read it several times while I listened for number of items ordered and final amount. Two pairs of oven gloves and one apron.
Thirteen pairs! Oven gloves, anyone?

 

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