Friday, 23 December 2011

Kindle Convert

Having passed most of my life as a paid-up, fully qualified, Luddite, in my defence it has also been true that I will adopt that which I find useful. Not that someone else finds useful; or that someone else thinks I should find useful; only something which offers utility to me.

Consequently (and this will not scream "surprise") I can in no way be described as belonging to that band of forward thinking vanguard marchers whom marketing people long ago labelled 'early adopters'. And I still call geeks, people with insufficient to worry about, or more often ... gadget men.

To give you a clue as to just how old-fashioned I am: I still lay the table correctly and use fish servers on Friday lunchtimes; I still write thank you letters - given appropriate provocation that is; and I remain adamantly opposed to typing messages on miniscule mobile phones in pidgin English - an exercise the world calls texting, not understanding, poor things, that the word 'text' is actually a noun. And that if one were, one wet Wednesday afternoon, to loosely transpose it into a verb, then 'texting' must necessarily refer to the construction of such paragraphs of English prose as are found in a book of instruction.

Unlike many of my fellow Luddites, I am not, however, intimidated by technology. It is not I who am stupid because a whole day's work has disappeared down a digital black hole, or because I cannot grasp that the way to turn off a computer is to press 'start'. On the contrary, I am simply infuriated that such illogical approaches have been allowed to permeate our, previously sane, society.

Likewise, the proliferation of icons. Pictures are for the illiterate; viz. medieval times when church walls were plastered with scenes from the Bible - because not even the priest could read. I can read. And whilst I have nothing against those who can't, I'd far rather teach them to decipher the alphabet than be relegated to thumbing pictures along with them.

Which brings me to the Kindle. A SIMPLE piece of technology. Yes, I know that's an oxymoron but the Kindle really is simple. It has perilously few controls and exists in anorexically slim shape to perform ONE task. Supply me with reading matter. Not tell me the weather in Bangkok or provide minute by minute updates on the parlous state of my bank account (and yours!) but to hold all my books in that one compact volume and produce them in whatever size type my failing eyesight demands.

Those wonderful people at Amazon are going to hate me for revealing this, but the Kindle so much does what the cognoscenti can deduce from the tin that, it has to have been designed by a woman ... and one  over forty at that.

So inspired am I by this godsend that I have entrusted it with my new baby (so which of us is the adopter now) and uploaded my first ebook into its care. See The Octopus Contract if you too can read.


Thursday, 20 October 2011

How to turn reality into a dream

I confess to dreaming.Whilst awake.There's a whole army of us, reading novels,watching Downton Abbey ... or Spooks; escaping into the persona we were destined to inhabit before being swapped in the delivery room.

I've always done it - as a child I scuffed along the road in a trance, envisaging a talent scout (another of my inventions) would spot me and whisk me across to Hollywood. Or Jess Harper in Laramie hold a drink to my lips as he rescued me from the Sioux, or later, Kevin Costner would appear in our driveway demanding to take me out.

It's not that we don't know they're hollow. That goes without saying, they wouldn't be dreams otherwise. 'Aha', I hear the optimists chorus, 'but they can come true.'

Yes, but not as we see them - they shape shift.

Dreams are literally insubstantial, one dimensional at best (though far from flat!). To materialise, by definition dreams must metamorphose - which has consequences....

I flashed my National Trust card, parked where directed and trudged through the shrubbery; cursing the 'five-a-day' dictum (miles that is) which punishes us for daring to drive. Or so I thought ... until, emerging alongside a magnificent fountain where the path takes a ninety degree turn, I staggered to stay upright.

Americans speak of the 'wow' factor, a pretty descriptive phrase generally but not in this instance. Not by half. Utterly inadequate. Unless there's a warp factor 'wow'. Goodness Gracious or Jumping Jehosophat would be more in keeping but still nowhere near strong enough to extol the fairytale ahead.

Now I know why they keep it wrapped. Make you walk, unwitting, through the trees until the house drops her negligee before you.

So here I am in the ultimate dream. This stunning property and attendant lush estate is all mine. My very own Brideshead. I watch myself  float through its galleries, inclining my head to those I encounter, beloved by servants and nobility alike. A benevolent benefactress, waited on hand and foot ... in a Nirvana which never existed.


Dreamers come in many forms but we have one thing in common. We enjoy imagining ourselves in amazing set-ups where - and this is the important bit - we always behave heroically.

Yet, in order to be accepted in my new world, I shall have to conform with convention. For example adopt a superior attitude to the staff - because that's what they expect; else what can they aspire to. The temptation to prop my feet on a velvet footstool, sip Bollinger for breakfast and count my millions will be strong ... and my dream punctured.

How can I turn reality into a dream?
To find out, visit