Over the last two years we have bought a new car on two occasions. The biggest difference between the old ones and the new ones is the sheer extent to which everything is now electronic. It drives me crazy.
Our Q5 has windows that seem uncontrollable. In theory you press down to open them and to stop them at any given point you simply flick the switch the other way. Why oh why then do my wife and I spend ages watching in despair as the windows go up or down paying scant regard to our efforts to stop them in a specific place? They have a life of their own. What in heavens name is wrong with a handle that you can turn? And there is no key to turn the engine on. No proper handbrake either – just a button. Two handbrake buttons in fact. I don’t trust either of them.
The A3 on the other hand keeps flashing at us. The coolant is too high or too low it yells. I lift up the bonnet (yes, I do know how to open the bonnet) and the coolant is perfect. Just on the right side of max. So why oh why does this happen every time we switch the engine on? The garage, which serviced the car in only two and a bit days, thinks this is fine because “its only the sensor that is defective”. Well pardon me if I throw a tantrum but its NOT alright. The sensor should not fail after less than two years. It took 8 years for the first one to go on our old Lexus but it did cost a leg and a bit to replace it.
When we were very young grocery shopping was easy. Mum wrote down what we needed in a 3d (that means three old pence not three dimensional) book and gave it to Reg Wools. A day or so later Reg would drive to our house and deliver the groceries. We paid with that old fashioned stuff called cash. Now we go to the supermarket, collect all our own stuff, queue behind the slowest people in the world and then wait whilst every other item is manually keyed in because the wretched barcode is either missing or unreadable. Of course the bar code is quite long so the average till girl – why are there no till boys? – has at least two or three goes before she gets it right. At the point where everybody is satisfied that the items have all been correctly tallied, during which no doubt Mozart could have composed an opera or two, we get to pay. First we negotiate over which credit card they accept or which one gives us the best discount this week. The processing of the electronic payment takes several minutes during which I usually wander off to get the car parking ticket stamped and when I get back, if we are lucky I can sign the chitty. If someone bucks the system and decides to pay cash all hell breaks loose as that means the till girl has to work out the right change. She probably calls a supervisor to check the large denomination note that has been tendered and looks it up on the list to make sure it hasn’t been printed off that very morning in the back parlour on an inkjet printer. Dear old Reg could have done his entire round in that time.
So all in all I am a bit anti-technology at the moment. Which is just as well because tomorrow we get to spend an entire day without electricity. China Light-fingered Power is doing a 5-year check on our small development and the management company, bless their cotton socks, has not arranged for a generator. Originally it was going to take two days but I bludgeoned them down to one. Its amazing what the threat of physical violence will do. I didn’t study under Doug & Dinsdale for nothing, you know.
So no toast for breakfast. Our electric window blinds can be open or shut but like the Q5’s windows, nothing in between. We do have a gas stove to make a cuppa. But everything else will be off. The dog will have to get used to playing blind dog’s buff for a day. We have had to disconnect the alarm system as the alarm man, known to us as Mr. Smelly (because he is) although he probably has another name, made no provision for turning it on or off when installing the system for the previous owner. Presumably he went on to design our Audi. I have no idea what else is powered by electricity in the house. I guess this laptop’s battery will run down PDQ. Perhaps I could get one of those little generator wheels and a herd of thundering hamsters to turn it.
Life really is a bitch. And just to prove it and on an entirely serious note, I learned this morning that a friend of mine has been fighting terminal cancer for several months. He and his dear wife are only a little older than I am but sort of adopted me as a waif / stray when I lived in Germany in the 80’s. They had 2 small children under 10 and one almost 30 years old. They had been silent for a while and when I received the annual Christmas Round Robin I was looking forward to catching up with the news. Alas, it was the worst possible. I have been distressed all day and it sort of puts in perspective the trials and tribulations of owning a car with no mechanical bits and the prospect of a day rubbing two sticks together to make fire. As I wrote back to Jo, I am not big on prayer but tonight I’ll make an exception. And sorry Mrs. McW, no birds today. I’m just not in the mood.