Saturday, 21 November 2009

WhI FI ?

My family are intent on hurling me, a small, furry snowball, into the white hot furnace of the technological revolution. It began last Xmas when the Head Ferret gave me a portable phone on which I can record music, listen to Radio 4 and take pictures. I make it a rule never to phone anybody because after a lifetime as a broadcaster I object to electronic conversations I am not being paid for. My grandsons Sam and Lol have both failed, despite intensive courses, to teach me how to record music. I have mixed feelings about Radio 4 where there is clearly a Fatwah against new ideas; the comedy programmes, with rare exceptions, induce broken sobs and many of the women announcers have voices like cheap scent. I can take pictures but, despite months of agonising button pushing, I remain incapable of transferring them to the album on my computer.
For my eightieth birthday the family collectively gave me what I persist in thinking of as an E By Gum Book. Fortunately it already had a selection of books on it. Just as well because the millions of books available free on Gutenberg and Google resolutely refuse to make the leap of faith from the ether to my book. In passing, I must say that E Books are ideal for reading in bed. They come with their own bed light, they are not heavy, and if you fall asleep they cuddle up companionably instead of dashing themselves on the bedroom floor in the way my laptop does the moment my eyes close.
The laptop is the cause of another worry. I wake at 4am and like to pass the leaden hours before the tea arrives reading the Daily Mail online. Such is my construction and limited vision that I have to rest the laptop on the belly so thoughtfully provided by the Creator. Part of the pleasure is the warmth it generates which flows into my body. Or was until I read that the Wireless Telegraph on computers exudes radio activity. Now I am terrified of waking one morning to find my body is glowing and I am transmuting into a Triffid.
My grandson Sam further complicated my life by enrolling me on Twitter, which I do not use for fear of meeting Stephen Fry ( how I agree with the reader who wrote to the Mail on Thursday: “I read that Stephen Fry and Ben Elton are emigrating. There is a God after all.”)
With Twitter comes a fresh horror. Twitter strikes back. I swear I have done nothing to disturb it but I keep getting emails saying that some person or persons of whom I have never heard are following me. It was some time before I discovered the hand of Twitter in this disturbing news and on the rare occasions I left the house I kept looking nervously behind me.
But all this worrying technology is as nothing compared with Skype. The very name rings with menace like Sprite or Goblin or Gnome. Skype is a noun heavy with mystic menace. God knows what its collective is.
My son-in-law David introduced me to it this week and, as if that wasn't frightening enough, his son Sam has bought me a webcam for Xmas. This means I can be seen when I make a phone call. I am not a pretty sight but now I am constantly combing hair and beard in case the Skype rings. Did I write rings? It doesn't ring. It howls like a demented banshee and gibbers. No one told me about this. I spent anxious hours scurrying round the house trying to trace the source of the strange noise. I finally tracked it down to the computer and was convinced it was about to take inhuman form. One day I hope to get over the embarrassment when the computer mechanic I called at thirty quid a throw explained what it was. On Xmas Eve I and my two Teddy Bears of the Bedchamber - Beau, a bespoke bear who was given to me by a Swiss lady called Maria,who in her youth was accounted the most beautiful woman in Europe and Gormless, who is my favourite bear:- will hide under the blankets in case Santa arrives with a Blue Tooth. I will pin a note to the pillow saying This is a Gibbs Dentifrice House And We Are Protected Against the IMPS of Decay”
My daughter I know is knitting me an Aran cardigan for the Festering Season. Thank God I have mastered the mechanics of the cardigan.Fortunately I have friends who give me gentle gifts like Teddy Bears and walking sticks. An only child, I have never been without a bear since the age of two. My mother made me a giant Paddington Bear for my birthday. My Fiftieth Birthday. This week a new bear joined my Hug (collective noun for bears). He is a bear called “Hero”. You'll see him in the photo on fire piquet in the study with Private T. Bear, Black Watch (RHR), an earlier Xmas present from my wife and Muhammad Bear. in protective custody..
Hero has an impeccable pedigree. He comes from the charity “Help the Heroes” and the greater part of the £13.95 I paid for him, including postage, goes to comfort and support our wounded soldiers. Anyone looking for a really lovely Xmas gift can find another bear on:
I am not a bit surprised that this infernal computer resolutely refuses to download my bears pixnic. Will email subscribers. Other readers I will send on receipt of email request. WE ARE NOT BEATEN YET
Here are some gems from the collection:
HOG: drift, drove, herd ;
JELLYFISH: smack, brood, smuth, smuck, fluther
MAGPIE: tiding, gulp, murder, charm, tittering, flock
MARTEN: richness
MOSQUITO: scourge,
ORANGUTAN: buffoon
PARTRIDGE: covey, bew
PEACOCK: muster, ostentation, pride
PHEASANT: bouquet, nest, nide, nye, brood, covey
POSSUM: passel
SEAL: pod, herd, school, trip,
ROOK, , rookery harem, team
SHARK: shiver, school, shoal
SNAKE: bed, knot, den, pit, nest, slith
SPIDER: cluster, clutter, venom
TIGER: streak, ambush, hide.
WOODPECKER: descent, gatling
TROUT: hover, leash, troup

WHAT THE PAPERS ARE SAYING.................................


Irish Independent
By Maeve Sheehan
Sunday November 15 2009
THE weapons were slash hooks, pitchforks, swords, clubs and pick axe handles; the battlegrounds included a church graveyard, an agricultural fair, a housing estate and the busy shopping streets of a large provincial town. We could have been hearing about the turf wars of another era. But this was Tralee District Court on Friday morning.
In the past six months, an internecine feud between rival Traveller families has erupted into frequent violent outbursts in a town where appearances matter. Tralee is regarded as an important tourist hub and is home to the annual beer fest that is the Rose of Tralee beauty pageant.
On Friday, we heard of midnight rampages by men wielding iron bars, slash-hooks smashing through car windows in broad daylight and a mass lunchtime brawl on a Sunday afternoon. Gardai have rounded up so many suspects that Judge James O'Connor held a special sitting of Tralee District Court on Friday so they could all be dealt with.
At one court sitting, last month, Judge O'Connor had to abandon proceedings when feuding families clashed on the steps of the court and the ensuing brawl ricocheted up and down Ashe Street, a sedate street of offices and businesses.


Top 10 Tory bloggers either doubt or dismiss the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity, according to a survey of the views of top Conservative thinkers on the web. The views run counter to David Cameron's focus on environment issues and will deal a blow to his hopes of changing the Tory party's anti-green image.