memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

My new laptop

Today I’ve just a bought a new laptop – a streamlined, sleek, ecologically-correct machine, a dark charcoal in colour with acres of memory and meadows of capacity. The screen is startlingly, even forbiddingly, clear and bright. The touch-pad is disconcertingly discreet in that it is invisible – at first one thinks that this well-known brand has made a disastrously basic design-error until one realizes that it is to facilitate wiping down the marks of the sweaty fumbling fingerprints after each day, like those up-market (German) oven-hobs made up of a single sheet of heat-proof glass.

It’s a bit like driving an old Datsun for years, coaxing it along, getting used to its little ways, cursing it sometimes but developing a weary affection for the old thing with its dashboard stuffed with old parking tickets and its boot full of junk … and then suddenly sitting at the controls of a brand-new Audi.

I must confess to rather missing the old Datsun. We’d been through a lot together that old laptop and me, through good times and bad, the first hesitant tapping at the keys when each word was a stumbling effort and I had to rest after each sentence. We agonized about our various consultations and operations. We got our revenge on the real or imagined slights of the staff by writing it all down, getting all the splenetic bile out of our systems and onto the page.

We chortled our through many a Monty Python clip on U Tube, chuckled through many a Fawlty Towers episode: disapproved our way through many a Rhiana and Lady Gaga video.

We went on the obligatory trawl through the murky world of porn and soon came to the conclusion that it was a self-serving industry and self-defeating too, being about as erotic as the boiled fish and potatoes served up to us every Tuesday evening.

We wasted many a good hour with the card games, do you remember, and I pared them to four games played in order of ease: Free Cell (doddle), Hearts (which I usually used to win) Solitaire (challenging) and my favourite – Spyder Solitaire – I was a two-suit man.

And all the time the memories came back and fluency of expression improved; the material was growing or gestating in your memory, was it not? Then we began think Book! Why not, what do we have to lose? Then came the frenziedly steep learning curve of Online Publishing. How we exulted in the publication of our book! At least it’s out there, we thought … but out where? What a come-down it was when we realized that after about six weeks the book had been bought by only seven and half people. But we rallied round, didn’t we …

I turn to the new machine which is purring softly as if to say just you wait and see what I can do. I address the machine sternly, who do think you’re staring at with your Skype eye? Just you be careful, this old laptop is worth ten of your sort.

GIRL IN FRONT OF WINDOW - PAINTING BY THOMAS MILNER

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