Silence is Golden

Silence is Golden

I don't think many people can comprehend the beauty of the English countryside unless they have experienced it first hand.

Don't get me wrong here.  I'm not going to do a whole tourist information plug.  Bear (bare?  I always get those confused) with me.  I always try to get to a point.  Eventually.

I grew up here.  My folks were never loaded, or great travellers.  So pretty much all of our family holidays were within our hallowed isles, and invariably involved a tent.  But to spice things up, we went to loads of different places.  So I have seen quite a lot of our nation, and most of it all dead rural.

This was all great.  I have seen a lot that many other people have not.  But I did most of it when I was a kid.  When I could not truly appreciate what I was being exposed to.  I saw lots of places that were green.  Some of them where hilly, some rocky, a few quite flat and one or two that were broken up by water.  But mostly green.

To break up the green we did stately homes and castles.  Some had statues, most had paintings, many had long halls with statues and paintings.  The best had turrets, castellation and dungeons.  But to a 10 year old, they were pretty much the same.  That said, one of them had the most beautiful piece of sculpture that I have ever seen.  I don’t remember where it was, or who it was by.  But it made such an impression upon me that I remember it to this day.

The point being, that only now do I appreciate what my parents where doing.  Introducing my brother and I to history, culture, beauty.  But it is only now, in later life that I appreciate this effort.  It’s just a damn shame that I really don’t remember much of it.

Anyway… off topic.

At the moment I am up visiting my Bro in Worcestershire.  (For those of you who don’t know the British Isles…  It’s about half way up, kinda on the left).  I don’t get up here that often, cos it’s quite a long way (I live in Kent, the bottom right hand corner).  It’s not far short of a three hundred mile drive (or a trip to the supermarket for you Yanks).

I live in a thriving metropolis.  Whitstable!  Don’t believe me?  Google it.  Ok, the first link may be broken (it was at time of typing…  But look at the pics.  Urban, right?).   But we can smell Canterbury from here, and it’s a city.  Ok, maybe not Canterbury itself, but we can smell its history.  And its pervading odour of the ages past has to overwhelm ours before it becomes noticeable.  And this is on top of the smell from the fresh fish market on the harbour.  Anyway, even on a quiet night there is the constant hum of traffic.  There is the glow of the surrounding urbanisation.  The knowledge that you could, if you were so uncouth, throw your empty wine glass and upset someone (I live in a relatively classy part of the Bubble…  Whitstabubble.  You got that right?  I didn’t need to explain that bit).

My Bro has gone a bit less urban than me.  It’s not quite the middle of nowhere.  You don’t have to drive for a day and a half to get to Tesco.  Bears don’t pick through his garbage.  And none of his children have been dragged of and eaten by wolves (no matter how much I have encouraged the wolves).  But it is a kinda idyllic rural setting.

For example, tonight I sat outside with a glass of wine and a fag.  All I could hear was the occasional hoot of an owl, the screech of a fox and the expression of a particularly flatulent gnat.  As night tipped over the cusp of dawn, the cattle began lowing.  Pheasants began their claxon like cries.  The world began to wake.

And I still had not heard a single bloody car.

This is completely aside from the monochromatic beauty of the trees silhouetted against the near full moon.  Or the subdued glow of the penumbral dawn cresting over the woods.  Or the flitting and sweeping of the bats as they caught their last morsels before bed.   This was all about the tranquillity.  The bark, hoot and tweet of nature.

Shhh__by_brooke_delaine

I appreciate them more when I am somewhere different.  I truly love the peace of this part of the country.   And this is really the whole point of this post.

This is a truly beautiful part of the country, and not just because it looks pretty.  You can see the beauty, even with your eyes shut.

But do not, for one moment, think that I don’t also appreciate the beauty of the cries of the gulls, the cacophony of the dawn chorus or the ‘I’m awake, feed me’ cries of some of the neighbourhood dogs in my neck of the woods.

I just wish they’d all do it a bit quieter when I’m trying to get a couple of hours more sleep.

03 Silent

03 Silent

As I stare into the flames, I can see how I am going to die. I feel sad for them now. I have never imagined this would happen. Where have the king and queen gone, there is only the burning throne left in this forsaken realm. I have wandered here for weeks now, the looming darkness creeping at my heels and now there is no place to hide.

I want to be there again. Everything is so beautiful in that place, or it was until the dark hands came from the shadow and took everyone away. It had not been the same for a long time. I still remember years ago. We were so happy back at our house. Days were warm and cozy and at night I dreamt myself into a wonderful world of knights and dragons, fighting valorously on the mountain tops for their treasure and large stock of fair maidens.

Dad and I use to make fun of the dragons, having a princess farm where they came and picked them up when a knight ran away with one of their livestock. Mom disapproves of such a silly thought. She said that the knights were unable to keep their maidens because they were always out looking for more.

I sat and watched them argue that Maidens were expensive to have and that knights were pompous cretins who only knew how to fight and yell. After they had argued they would usually stop speaking to each other for a couple of days, but they thawed quick enough.

Our house was on a lustrous ground filled with grass and trees. It wasn’t a big yard, but there was still room for a sandbox in the back for me to play in. Dads even build me a tree house where I could scout for dragons, keeping the world rid of those pesky lizards. I never had any friends. The place was sparse of children and the few around were avoiding me if possible.

It still hurts when I think about that day. It was early morning when I got up. I wanted dad to fill the pool he had bought me. There was no one in the bedroom. I searched the house for them both and found dad digging in the yard. He told me that mom had gone to town to get dinner. We were going to have my favorite.

I should have seen something was amiss. Dad promised me everything I asked him for. He had a hoarse voice as he told me that we were going inside to get pancakes for breakfast. I was happy that morning.

Inside we made them together and dad served me pancakes in the TV chair. He was shivering slightly, but I didn’t care at that time. He was probably just tired of cleaning the garden. He gave me all the pancakes, saying that he wanted to see my smiling face.

He didn’t sit in the couch like me and mom did, he took a kitchen chair and sat down beside me. We talked about my dream realm again. I had been there last night. The king and queen had told me that I could move in with them and become a knight whenever I wished. Dad told me that it would be an honor to live in a castle like that. He grinned nervously as he sat tying a knot on a hemp rope.

I still remember that smell, the rope was dry and dusty. I asked him what he was doing and said he wanted to hang something from the ceiling today.

He sat with me. He asked me about wizards in my world. He was curious if there was anyone who had some magic tomes that could help me.

I had never seen a wizard there, it was only dragons that could do magic in my world.

Dad told me about a young wizard just around my age, with a tome of wisdom. The wizard knew all the wrong things and I should not listen. By doing the opposite of the wizard I would always do the right thing is still ringing in my ears. I asked dad if he had seen the wizard before, but he never responded. He just looked at me with his stern eyes and took deep breaths.

As he got up he crawled onto the chair and asked me to smile for him.

I will never forget those 5 seconds ever again. Burned into my skull like whiplashes they bring me to my knees even years later.

I’m older now I guess. I cannot stay with the past forever and the world around me has moved on with and without me. I have tendencies to box myself in when it becomes too much, but my foster family has begun to treat me like everyone else. I am not the little silent child anymore; they have made it a routine to ask me about everything I do. I try to have quiet moments for myself and they won’t let me.

Only in my dreams am I truly alone. The blissful comfort of hearing my own thoughts are like music for me. No one asks what I am thinking about. No one demands indirectly to hear how my day has gone or how school was; here in my secret dream world I am all alone.

No one alive knows about this world of mine. The thought of keeping it a secret is like butterflies in my stomach. They don’t expect me to be happy and smile all the time, and I am not smiling unless forced in social forums. But in my bed at night I am smiling. I embrace the dark veil that hides my silent victory, an entire world of knights and dragons they will never know about!

Or so I thought…

Signs started showing up after I had turned 15. I was getting up one night to have a glass of water, when I heard someone talk in the kitchen. It was nearly 3am and everyone usually went to bed at midnight.

Moving closer I realized they were talking about me. Someone I have never heard before was talking in hushed voices with my foster parents. They were fidgeting with a voice recorder. I could barely sneak a peek at the kitchen door into the hallway without getting noticed.

I sat for minutes listening in on their conversations. First I didn’t understand what the issue was, they were talking about my parents and to some extend… me?

My senses sharpened as they mentioned murder, someone had been killed apparently and I were involved somehow.

My heart pounded and I was breathing irregularly, they were talking as if I was an object of their investigation. A mere piece in the puzzle for them to solve… feelings completely disregarded.

How were they investigating me? I have never seen anyone or talked to anyone except my foster parents?

I held my breath to hear how they discussed me and my behavior. They said I was antisocial and depressed. How I wonder what they will gain from that?

In a second they turned the recorder on and we all sat breathlessly listening to my voice? It was me! They had recorded me while I slept and to my surprise I talked in my sleep. From their rapidly increasing speed in the conversation I hear they were afraid that I would do something rash like kill myself. I never thought of that until now. I have always cursed my parents for their cowardice!

I held my breath again as the talked turned to me. They were trying to express how worried they were for my health and social abilities. They talked about a psychiatrist, but it was expensive with the medication they were giving me… WHAT?

I have never received any medication?

What is happening in this house?

My foster parents told this stranger about the hard work they had tricking me to eat antidepressants and pain killers!? How can they tell a stranger about something that sensitive? I didn’t even know they were drugging me?

It was becoming unbearable to listen too. My life was a façade with happy pills and espionage. How could my own two parents, my foster parents who are in charge of my upbringing be so cruel?

They are making me into something I am not. They are stealing my identity!

How dare they take my life away from me, it is so hard to remember the happy days with my real parents, especially when that day comes up every time I think of them.

Sitting in the hallway, I didn’t want to be there or anywhere else. I crawled slowly back to my bedroom and slipped into bed again. I searched for the tape recorder and found it in my bed frame. I turned it off and tried to fall asleep.

It was a dreamless sleep for once.

I woke up next morning when the alarm clock buzzed like a maniac. I punched it like I had always done and crawled out of bed.

Everything in the house was still calm and quiet when I walked downstairs. I stepped into the kitchen where they had been talking to that stranger last night, but everything was clean. There was no sign of anyone having been there. I opened the cupboard to see my breakfast stand alone like it had always done.

I never saw any of my “parents” eat of this. Is this one of the ways they drug me?

Closing the cupboard I took out a piece of toast instead and sat down in the living room, turning the television on. The news was usual, bad weather and the threat of terror to keep us all scared, as my foster father always complained about. There was no real reason to be scared, since even our mailman couldn’t find this remote village I live in now.

I sat quietly starring at the reports about Middle East; it hadn’t been resolved yet… like it ever would. Too many people don’t want peace there, they are just blowing the fire and it occasionally leads outside their borders in fear of being forgotten. If they would just kill themselves so we didn’t have to waste good people on their problems, even “dad” lost track of their reasons to fight. Someone gets oppressed and begs for help and rises to abuse their power before the same nation waste men and money on stopping what they started. Retards the lot of them!

I had to turn off the television; I was getting agitated watching their endless stream of misery and fake hopes hidden behind fake smiles. We only know one thing for certain in this life… so they can’t promise us shit!

I went into the kitchen to turn on the radio instead; maybe some music could change the mood? It was a fine morning. The sun was gleaming over the trees out back. I opened the backdoor and stepped outside to se e the lawn wet and the raindrops falling gently off the oak tree.

 I could vaguely hear the radio, just my luck. I had run into the nine o’clock news. The same stupid stories now without the visual media, made it worse in my head. I not only imagined what I had seen on TV, but how annoyed I felt when I saw it. Stepping inside I rummaged around the channels to find something worth listening too, but it was a mix of bad news and frustrating music.

Turning off the radio, I was getting a feeling of annoyance. I wanted something to take my mind off the world around me, but everything drew me in faster. It was mocking me and trying to destroy my good mood. They wanted me to be one of their scared masses that shook at every rustle of the wind and hid inside my house as soon as the light seemed to dim.

What is happening, what are you doing?” a voice yelled behind me. I had been so swallowed by the oppressing masses that I had not noticed my attempt to turn off the radio had led to me snapping it in two and cut my palm.

My foster mother stormed over to me like a panic-stricken chicken and pushed the radio out of my hands. She jerks me under the tap and rinsed my hands before bandaging me. She yelled at me for ten minutes straight. There was a clock on the wall over the living room door and I watched how long she could keep up her monologue or be interrupted by “dad” starting all over.

Haven’t you had your breakfast yet?” she asked when she had calmed down. I told her I wanted toast instead and she flinched for a second. Any other day I wouldn’t have noticed, but I knew better now. My guess was right on the nose, they were spiking my food with antidepressants to keep me artificially calm. I told her I was in the mood for toast and water today. I lied about my stomach feeling soar for unknown reasons, to throw her off all suspicion.

“I have some pills for stomach aches, let mom take care of that dear!” she said in her motherly voice. I reeked of panic. She retrieved two orange pills and a glass of water and told me that it would set my stomach straight.

I didn’t want to take them. She looked worried at me. I felt something was wrong, her diplomacy dyke was cracking and her smile faded slowly. She insisted in me taking the pills to help me and stopped referencing my stomach. I asked her what they were for and she kept saying “It is for your health and wellbeing!”

I still refused and kept asking me what the pills were for. Our voices were getting louder and she was getting angry. In the end we were yelling at each other and when I picked up the pills and threw them at her, she knew that I had figured it out. “Dad” had come downstairs to see what the fighting was about; he looked from me to “mom” to the pills on the floor.

“He refuses to take them, something is wrong!” she said in a scared voice.

“He will eat his medicine now!” he said grabbing me and wrestled me to the ground. I was shocked and distorted by his sudden change in behavior. Why was he attacking me like that? Struggling on the floor he and “mom” got a bottle with the pills open and he grabbed a handful.

I spat them out at him when he pushed them inside my mouth. He hit me on the side of the head stunning me for a second and I felt how his large hand pushed some inside my mouth while holding my mouth and nose until I involuntarily swallowed.

It didn’t take long before I felt a reaction. My elevated pulse and racing heart pushed the drugs through my system in minutes. He held me like a vice as I lay swirling on the floor. My fingers and toes were feeling weird.

“How many pills did you give him?” I heard “mom” ask and “dad” said bluntly “I don’t know, I just shoved them down; I didn’t see how many I had!” Their voices were starting to sound mechanical; there was a weird delay that made every sound echo in my head. I couldn’t feel my hands and legs anymore; even “dad” sitting on top of me was fading away. “He is tripping, call the doctor!” he yelled at “mom” before I passed out.

I woke up in the castle. It was dark and cold in the kitchen hall. I sat up and starred around the huge room filled with stone stoves and aches of tables to prepare the food for the vast royal assemble.

No one was there, it was empty. There were usually at least five people working at the slowest hours. Not a single noise was brought with the draft running down the stairs. I stepped up to the large stairs, where hundreds of people would run when they were making a feast for visitors of other kingdoms.

My steps echoed with every second step. I ascended the large stairway and opened the doors into the gigantic dining hall. Five hundred chairs. Half the town could eat there at the same time, but it often stood empty. The maidens hated cleaning the place up and had persuaded the king to have his meals in a smaller dining room since it would take forever to heat the hall up.

Chairs and tables were knocked over. I could barely see what was on the table in this dim light. I reached for a candle I found on the floor and searched for a way to turn it on. I remembered the fireplace, a large hole in the wall where wood was stacked high. At the side were the tin and flint I was looking. It took me a few tries to make sparks and finally got a tiny fire going in the corner of the fireplace. Lighting my candle I saw to my horror that the dining hall was covered in red and brown blood. There was not a single person or a severed limb. Only blood showed a path of terrible destruction.

I stepped around the hall to see if there was any sign of life, but not a single piece of clothes or a single nail was to be found. I found a table where someone had tried to write something in blood, but it seemed incoherent at first. “Did you see?”

On the wall someone had scribbled “Abandon…” making a long trail of blood run off the “n”, but there was still no sign of any people.

I walked past the thrones and out into the hall where large armor is used to salute everyone passing by. Nothing left. No shield, nor weapons… no armor. The long hallway was completely empty.

As I searched the castle, I kept feeling that the shadows were moving. Something was just outside my sight sliding in and out of the shadows, cast by the large furniture. In one of the bedrooms, a bed was made. It looked like someone was sleeping in it. I had to look. I didn’t want to speak out, since the shadows were following me. There was no sound at all and the lump in the bed wasn’t moving.

Slow and carefully, I stood beside the bed and pulled the sheet off revealing a black hole. The bed had a dark hole covered in blood. As I stepped back from the horrid scene, half terrified of what had happened there and half relieved not to find a corpse; I felt the air growing tense. Nothing but my footsteps echoed. I felt the shadows shiver along the walls; I heard the beating of my heart pound in my ears.

Stepping back towards the bed, feeling myself move automatically, as if the shadows themselves pushed me towards that reeking well of black and blood. It smelled of iron. My heart was racing and my stomach was suppressing my breakfast. I leaned over the bed to see if I could see anything that would answer the questions that had build in my scattered brain.

I starred for minutes into the black void without any result, it was completely silent still, my heart pounding like it was going to burst when a shrilling voice made it echo all the way down the hall, “Do not hang yourself in details… use hemp!”

Hundreds of black hands shot up at me. They had only waited for the second I was off my guard. I dropped my light and was engulfed in arms, pulling me down into the deep, ripping my hair and choking me until I passed out of exhaustion.

Was this the hands that took all the other people too?

I woke up on the dark floor. I was in one of the large cellars; I could hear the echoes of dripping water. Sitting up I felt around for anything that could be people. I wanted an explanation on the dark hands, but there was nothing.

Getting up I staggered around in the darkness for a wall or something that would indicate an edge. I found nothing.

I wandered for hours in that cold hell staring into nothingness. I thought about the times with my foster parents where they taught me that there was nothing in the darkness to be afraid off. No one can see anything in that thick darkness so it’s easier to hide than harm someone.

As the sound of my feet grew fainter I suddenly stumbled upon something on the ground. It wasn’t a person, it was something square… or close to square. I knelt down and felt a rock surface. A box, no but it could open. It was a book… a strange hard cover though, but I’m certain it was a book.

Picking up the heavy object, I ran my hands over the front and opened it to get a grasp on the paper inside. The cover was cold and hard but the paper inside was warm and slightly sticky. Closing it I felt that I needed to see this in daylight.

I started running now. It couldn’t go on forever. I know that building is big, but this was getting ridicules. I stopped after a long while; I took a deep breath and turned around so I could head back towards place I had gone. I must have gone in the wrong direction from the beginning.

The second I turned two pale eyes stood right behind me. With a shock I threw the book at them and grabbed around the throat of this dark being following me. I kept squeezing until it felt limp in my hands and I let go.

I was lucky that it had been there. I could have grabbed air. I could have misjudged my timing and it would have caught me. It caught me… out of the darkness hundreds of hands pushed me to the ground. I couldn’t see them; I could only feel how they squeezed me towards the floor. The pain was terrible… I passed out again.

Future ambitions… did I have any? What was I going to be when I grow up? Did my parents leave a legacy behind or am I truly alone?

This time I woke up in broad daylight. I was in the hospital… in a modern hospital. My arms were tied to the bed and the machine next to me was beeping immensely. Three nurses came into the room at the same time.

He is awake, what should we do now?” one of them said starring at me like a gorilla in a zoo. “Check his vital signs, we are obliged to make sure he is healthy!” the older nurse said her hands in her side.

What is going on?” I asked giving them a strained expression as they ignored me completely. It created the worst and most embarrassing silence I have ever witnessed.

His vital signs are normal, his bruises are healing fine!” the first nurse said and they left the room again as quickly as they entered.

I watched them leave and lock the door. A letter was lying in my lap… had it always been there?

I didn’t seem to remember starring at my lap until now, why didn’t the nurses react on something like that? It was a yellow parchment with a black spot on the front.

I fought against my restraints to get to the letter, but it was just out of my reach. The leather strap on my right side was a little old, withering away like musty old hemp rope. I could wrestle myself free, but it cost me some bloody bruises as my wrist got torn from the struggle.

Loosening the other strap, which was an entirely new and smooth leather strap; I grabbed the letter and pulled it open.

In my restless dreams.

I see that town.

Turn the paper over you barmpot!

I flipped the page after reading the three lines over and over… There had been a meaning there once… I guess it’s gone now?

Do you think you were born for your reason?

What did you tell dad about the wizard?

Where is my book?

She approaches children more than adults… have she given you anything?

Where is my book?

I looked up from the letter as I heard a noise. People were screaming and smoke was entering the room under the door. A yellow glow flickered in the small window in the door. Someone had set the hospital on fire… The window!

Chapter 02: Variations of the World

Chapter 02: Variations of the World

I was staring blankly out the window. The morning was hot and the traffic roared outside. Like busy ants, dynamically working together suits showed up in the streets, cabs drove up to them, they jumped in and together they drove off and joined the dense traffic. The coordination was mesmerising me while I attempted to wrap my head around June's account of the night before. I knew not what was the strangest, her reactions to what she told me or the events themselves? I could not recognise her in her story. After I watched a cab pick up a particularly shabby looking guy out front June broke the silence. She cleared her throat. "Yes," I answered distraught and continued: "Yes. Sorry, but I don't get it." With a sigh: "What's not to get?" "Everything. Would you please start over?" "Where from?" "When you left the restaurant, that's where you lost me." She looked out the window and mumbled: "Fine." Her annoyance was almost luminescent. A blind man would be able to see it with his cane. An airline pilot could have seen it from above the skies. More to the point, I could see it, feel it and I understood it. Her makeup was patchy, her hair was dusty and had long ago given up all pretends of a hairstyle, her clothes were equally dusty, patchy and foul and her odour tattled she had not been home before she came to work, not to dress, not to shower. I knew her mother, frustrating little harpy, would eventually call me up in terror that her baby girl was dead in a ditch off some highway three states over and somehow find a way, in spite of the fact she was her guardian twelve days of every two weeks, to make it all my fault. Even on weekdays when I had nothing to do with her except during work hours. I barely ever saw her at work as Diane, June's harpy mother, had made it all to clear that if June ever got her hands dirty, even the slightest, her lawyer new dapper gent would attempt to make my life miserable all over again. As much as I hated that guy, the company did not need a rogue lawyer going through neither all accounts nor those missing.

"When we got out of the restaurant Jonas tried his best to shake me off," she started as I shot her a quizzical glance. "He went all 'you going that way? Okay, but I'm going the other way'. Probably thought he was being clever or something," she shrugged with a yawn and continued through the yawn: "But I got his home address from H. R., so I obliged his petty attempt to ditch me, walked around a corner of the block and hailed a cab." "He did not get a cab?" "No, it wasn't that far away from the restaurant so he walked there. It suited me nicely as I got a chance to peek before he got there." "What did you find?" "You know dad, this feels more like an interview than a conversation," she said with a fake laugh and continued: "Anyway I got up to his address and tipped the cab driver. Irish fellow, told a good joke. An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them and asks 'Is this a joke?'" She paused to snicker a bit. With a chuckle, I pretended I never heard this joke before and she cheerfully abandoned her digression. "So I got out the cab and waved goodbye when it hit me." "What hit you?" "A bush. I got out and the bushes hit me. I was being overwhelmed by bushes and trees and garden plants. They were everywhere. I broke a heel!", she complained appalled as if a stranger hand walked up to her, smacked her and called her both fat and ugly. "A heel!" "He gardens in his spare time?" "God no," she exclaimed: "Nobody has trimmed a leaf in that garden for years I'll bet. Everything had sprouted insanely and the garden path was barely visible. I took off my heals and thanked the high heavens that moss and grass had covered the path. I eventually got through the plants and found behind the shrubbery a house covered in ivy and vines. The windows were mostly mouldy and cracked. Few of them completely covered in plants. I fought my way around the house through, what I'll call the wild onslaught of furious shrubbery, and peeked inside when I could. The first room I saw was the kitchen. It had a counter and what I guess passes as a fridge. It looked like something from the last millennium. Something Indiana Jones had survived a nuclear blast in. The room was dusty, but then again, every room was dusty. You want to know how dusty it is? Take a look at my hair!" "You didn't go home to shower?" "Nah, I stayed and started on a Herculean task of cleaning." "See that’s what I have a hard time imagining." "Right, I can't clean, I'm a slob." "Not what I meant," I said and she continued the story: "Since I couldn't get a better view of the kitchen I moved further around the house and found the master bedroom. The room was ornate, like something out of grandmother's old interior decor magazines. Colourful yet faded patterns on the bed sheets with tassels every few inches. The queen-sized bed was carved in wood with great detail; seriously, I think his dad was a carpenter. Flowers and birds carved into the wood with great detail, feathers and all. Could also have been his mother doing carpentry, who knows. Everything was so antique. And dusty," "And dusty, I get the picture," I nodded. "Made my way around the house further and got to the living room. What a mess! Dirty dishes everywhere, empty cartons of milk, crumbs, used glasses and cutlery on every surface in the room. A ruined soiled couch faced a television, a small non-HD one. The screen was tiny. Some of the dishes had fungus growing on them. It was so gross. The only piece of furniture not littered by dirty dinnerware was a piano in the far end of the room facing away from the TV. It was carved as beautifully as the bed in the bedroom, but with notes instead of flowers. Still birds though for some reason," she continued and came to a halt. "You think his dad was a falconer?" "No. I think one his parents carved wood for a living." "Anyway as I progressed further around the house I found no more unveiled windows and I got to the front porch. Jonas was making his way inside. For quite some time I had figured I had the wrong address. He freaked when he saw me. His gaze flickering wildly he fumbled and dropped his keys. He kept screaming at me to get out or go away, though in a more rude fashion," she continued. "Yeah, I figured." "If you figured this much, why don't you tell me the story then?" "You stubbornly refused to leave and upon picking up his keys and unlocking the front door, he attempted to keep you from entering and you fell inside?" "How? How did you know that?" "You're covered in dust. Of course you took a tumble." "Yeah. So I was grossed out and I noticed the cloud of dust slowly crawling away from me. He didn't even offer me a hand to help me up. Just stood there looking uncomfortable. As soon as I got on my feet, bare feet mind you, he asked me to leave. Just like that and it's not like he was nice or polite about it. And I got to thinking about what made a person this messed up." "Quite a few things can drive a person over the edge," I replied: "Tragedy has many faces." "Right, so I refused to leave and started looking around the house when he went all Rain Man on me." "How so?" "He took a seat in the living room on the couch and he held his head with both hands while rocking back and forth. Anyway, I was eventually trying to get into the master bedroom, but the door was locked. As I grabbed the handle Jonas stood up, and I think he is skitzo or something." "What on Earth makes you think that?" "Well, he was all confident and suave, like gentlemanly and all." What follows here is June's account for the events that followed between her and Jonas.

He got up and brushed himself off. Then he looked June dead in the eyes and said, "I do apologise for my childish behaviour, you see, I am not one to entertain guests regularly as I rarely ever take company in this humble abode." June interrupted him: "Abode? I'd say it would be generous of you to even call it a shack." "Ah, yes, we agree on that account and that is why I rarely entertain company here. On the occasion that I do have company, more often that not, me and my comrade sit by the hearth debating criminal philosophy, you see my friend was–" and here June stopped following his ramblings and broke in: "What's on the other side of that door?," as she pointed towards the bedroom door knowing the answer. "Ah, yes, that is my parents' residence. I do respect their privacy, thus I do not dwell uninvited in their chambers." "Alright, enough with the posh British act," June barked, "Didn't you say your parents disappeared? Maybe there's a note or something in there." "Oh, I do believe Mother said she'd take Father for a stroll and to get a new trilby as his hat got bend out of shape a fortnight ago at the steeplechase. He got in an argument with a gentleman at the totalisator and, well, hats were knocked off in a most petty show of uncivilised conduct, Father assures me." All June could do at this point was stare idly at him. "Yes, well, my point was that I rarely take company and that I have not taken the company of a woman as fine as you for quite some time. I must beg your pardon as you have me at a disadvantage," he continued in a humble tone and this did not help June's bewilderment. A moment passed and eventually Jonas broke the silence: "Did I offend the fair lady?" "No, but you are scaring me," she eventually muttered. "Ah, my apologies, I have just returned from a day on the town, what an extraordinarily boring day it has been, that is why the abode is such an eyesore at present." "I gotta go," June panicked and ran for the door, barefoot and all leaving her broken heels behind.

"What'd you do after you left?" June lay down on the couch giving off a small cloud of dust as she did so. "I didn't believe a thing I just saw, like, he changed his character in the blink of an eye. He even had the accent down perfectly. It was scary." With a sceptical glance, I turned around and looked at her. "That doesn't really account for the state you're in now, you know." She sighed and yawned. "Well, I went back there after a while. I got about half way home when my conscience got the better of me. He is clearly damaged and he shouldn't be alone." "You went back for your heels?" She shot me that annoyed glance only a daughter can give her father when he sees through her. "Whatever, I went back and found him napping over an old VHS." "Which show?" "What does it matter?" "Well, it reflects a few things about Jonas." "It was some old show about a bar in Boston. Think it was called Beers. Never seen it. Looked old." "Cheers," I corrected. "You're welcome. Anyway I knocked on the door and Rain Man didn't even flinch. He just sat absorbed by the screen." "Like you do whenever Jersey Shore comes on," I added with a smirk. "I suppose. He hadn't locked the door when I left the house before so I walked in. Felt wrong. I cleared a seat in the corner of the couch and I swear he didn't even move once. Barely blinked. So I sat down on the dusty couch and tried to watch it." "And?" "Show sucked. All talk and no jokes." Quietly weeping in my mind, I faced the window and the vanishing morning traffic. A tramp was walking by the church when he suddenly threw down his hat, sat down and summoned a harmonica from a pocket. A few merciful suits offered sixpence to his hat as they passed by. I felt the urge to leave the building a buy the man dinner, suit and shelter. The suits did not know the tragic story that made that man a tramp. I did. I knew every detail. I was partially responsible and my restraining order kept my conscience from causing financial ruin to myself.

The man was a client of a law firm from up state. He came to town as a liaison in a trade with ZenTech. The deal was supposed to be shipped over seas rather covertly and he was to return up state with no evidence that anything had taken place but a ZenTech business card. Turned out the man Keith Nike was put forward to his superiors for promotion and he was to arrange this shipment without incident to secure the promotion. He took the task happily with the prospect of a quiet management job with an early retirement due to a solid financial foundation. He was, however, not the only one hunting that promotion. Coster must have a Lee. Alien must have a predator. Man must have laziness. So too did Keith have Erik Norman. Turns out the prospect of being set for life is an attractive one to a man occupying a practical and dangerous career to earn a living. Erik and Keith were actually good friends and in an act of comradeship before Keith travelled down here to fulfil his contract, he let Erik in on the plans over a few pints. This act of friendship, this display of mutual trust brought a respectable man in the prime of life with fiancee and fairly progressed wedding plans to the hobo in front of the church playing for scraps. A dynamic man transformed into a leech on the rest of the corporate world. Fitting that the suits should sponsor him now. It is indeed the greed and rivalry of 'business' that drove Keith to his spot on the sidewalk. Now he served as a part of the collective guilt and as a reminder to everyone what human nature ungoverned and unsoiled can lead to.

The deal was going to go down on at a small marina outside town mostly frequented by anglers enjoying their retirement. The contact had been scheduled to arrive at two in the morning and Keith and I were supposed to be there with the merchandise to be shipped abroad and the contact would deliver the payment to ZenTech by boar as usual. I showed up in my usual attire with only two bodyguards and Keith showed up early and alone. It was his own company's and the contact's instructions he should take part of the deal. I was to hand over the goods, brought in two trunks held separately by each bodyguard and I was to receive the cash, then as a token of service give Keith the business card that the deal was done by ZenTech standards; his golden ticket. The police showed up before the contact arrived by boat. By reflex, I legged it along with my security detail leaving Keith behind with the merchandise. As stated, I have ruined many people and this does not even rank in the top 10 worst cases. Keith was arrested and the police assumed the lockers belonged to him. He was unable to prove they did not. He was sentenced to prison for 12 years with no chance of appeal or parole. During the trial, he claimed I was involved in the trade and to avoid a public incident with the media that would reflect poorly on ZenTech I took my lawyer's advice to get a restraining order on Keith. I am not to go within 30 feet of the guy, although I feel guilty for his fate. In prison Keith lasted 4 years before he learned of Erik's demise. In blazing anger he offered an inmate house keys and access to his now ex-fiancee in exchange for the murder of Erik. Erik was shot point blank in a dark alley and his ex-fiancee was raped and killed two days after the inmate got out on parole. 

"So I just sat there watching Beers," "Cheers," I corrected again, but she did not seem to heed it but kept explaining: "He laughed every once in a while when the laugh track went off, but I didn't get it. Three episodes I sat there on a dusty couch trying to get in touch with him. Nothing, I even kicked him!" "He was that far gone?" "Yeah, when the tape ended he immediately looked at me and sprang to his feet." "Where did you come from?" Jonas had shrieked at her: "Didn't you go home?" "I did, but I forgot my heels. Now I can't find them." He walked purposefully towards the entrance and opened the door. Taking the hint, June got up to leave. He then rummaged through a hedge and summoned my heels from underneath the green shrubbery. "I kept them save," he had said shyly, going back inside closing the door and offering them to June. "I was standing there and I had no idea what to say or what to do. I couldn't believe what I saw or heard," she continued: "I took them with a smile muttering a 'thank you' of sorts and resumed my seat in the couch." He had then offered her a drink and even though all he could offer was tepid tap water from a questionable glass I had raised June was some manners and she politely accepted the offer, feeble as it was. He rewound the tape and proceeded to summon a box of VHS tapes from beneath the couch. June saw fit to distract him before he would absorb himself in fictitious Boston for a few hours once more. "Who are you?" June had asked dropping all attempts at decorum. "I'm me," Jonas had answered: "I was me a moment a go and as time is continuous and I am me now I have been me all along," he had answered while looking through the tapes. "I then proceeded to ask him about earlier, but he feigned to have no memory of it," she continued with a yawn: "When I asked him whether he wouldn't be happier with friends, or a bigger TV, or a clean home he just looked at me and asked me what I was talking about. According to him, the house was cleaned by his mother just the day before, although the dust in the air danced whenever air left his mouth and dishes were everywhere. Further, he claimed the TV was 40 inches across. I wouldn't guess it more than 14. Tops. And it wasn't HD as he said either and he was not watching DVD's." "What about friends?" I asked. "He never got around to that. He just stated that he was happy with things the way things were and if I saw things differently than him, then it was my problem. Not his." Curiously, I turned to look at her, anticipating her reaction to this. "So he sat there watching Beers," "Cheers!" I screamed provoking nothing by a sly smile from her as she continued: "And I started cleaning up the house. He didn't even notice. When I had gone to fetch soap and a bucket and had done the dishes in the living room alone it was time for work. He had fallen asleep in front of the TV that eventually showed nothing but noise and a black screen." "You came straight here from doing dishes? Wait, you cleaned?" "Yeah, I'm going out for coffee with Lara later at lunch. Might return there tomorrow." "You should go home to Mom for a bath and a nap first," I remarked failing all other words: "And don't you have a photo shoot today?" "Oh yeah," she replied as if she had forgotten: "But couldn't I shower at your place? If mom saw me like this she'd freak." "Sure. Before you leave, come here and watch. Do you see that man sitting there by the church?" "The bum, yeah," she answered hesitantly: "He looks better than I do right now." "Could you put this in this cap?" I asked and handed her a hundred dollar bill: "Don't let him stop you, though. Drop and go." "Sure," she said with a glare, "Is that Teddy?" "No, Teddy is still on death row. Also, he's missing a leg and an arm. Never mind. Get going."

A shower, a nap and a phone call from a furious harpy later June set out to meet Lara for lunch. They had gone to high school together and had for quite a while the idea of attending college together, but life got in the way. Diane had a huge modelling career planned out for June she was pressured into pursuing and Lara was recruited by the police.

Lara was a fair girl, but she had always been more into guns and cars than makeup and boys. She grew up with a veterinarian father and her mother died during labour. Her father had a hobby of training guide dogs and police dogs and Lara took a shine to animals as well as physical work as her older brother (7 years older than Lara) pursued his great desire to join the army. Lara grew up in the same neighbourhood as me, Diane and June for the greater part of June's childhood. For a brief period June and Lara went to elementary school together since Lara's intended school was torched to the ground and a temporary solution was made scattering the affected children to local private schools. That was when the girls met one another and they have been friends ever since. Sure they have had their spats, what good friendship does not have a spat once in a while, but they stuck together nonetheless.

At the time of this story, Lara was working with the local police in the K9 unit much to her father's great pride while her brother was stationed in Iraq, a deed her father loathed and was not afraid to admit he did. You would never meet Lara wearing anything but her uniform or a pair of worn jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of sneakers. Although she dressed with great success to be as unremarkable as possible, she possessed a great natural beauty. Her eyes were large and shone green with a sort of friendly look no matter what mood she was in. Whether she had just had breakfast and was on the way to work, or she had trained with her dog Pouncer all day, she had the same lively puppy eyes. She had an almost spiritual bond with her dog treating Pouncer not as a child, but as a colleague to be respected and maintained, a force to be bargained with and a sentient being with a mind of his own that she must trust to protect her, like he must trust her to protect him. The latter is in the nature of dogs naturally; the naive and profoundly dumb animal only occasionally clever, but very endearing in spite of its limited cognitive resources. Surely a person pissing in his own mouth we can all agree is a perverse and unfitting display of behaviour in any situation, but could anyone hate a puppy for doing the same deed? At least that was the way Lara put it.

Lara arrived at the coffee klatch five minutes early and assumed a seat outside under a shade with Pouncer assuming a leisurely position beside her chair panting from the heat. She was in her usual streets as she had taken some days off. A waiter came up to her before June had arrived: "What'll you be drinking?" "Can I get a Guinness and a saucer of water for the hairy beast?" she asked with a nod towards the dog. "Awww, he's cute. Sure," the waiter replied and had almost turned around: "And my friend will take an iced tea, no sugar." The waiter shot her a glance. "She'll be here any minute," Lara explained and the waiter trailed off without a word. The sun was scorching and the cool drinks arrived shortly before June arrived. She was only a minute away from turning the corner to the cafe, somewhat rested but neatly showered and in clean clothes. The iced tea was condensing in the heat and Pouncer was gluttonously drinking from a bowl of water the waiter had brought. Though he was lying down, he was wagging his tail eagerly. Lara had only taking one sip of her beer when June rounded the corner and come into sight. Pouncer immediately sat up, his tail wagging furiously, and Lara smiled. "Hi sweetie," she said as June came within earshot. "Hi, how are you?" she replied and resumed her seat turning towards Pouncer: "Who's a good boy?" scratching the big dog behind his ears. "I'm just dandy. Enjoying the day off and chilling as much as I can," she replied. June took her iced tea and sipped: "How'd you know?" "You got a photo shoot today. You only take iced tea with no sugar on photo days," she replied with a smile, "Passes right through you." "Charming," June replied. "How are you?" asked Lara taking a sip of beer. "Slightly annoyed you can eat like that and stay thin, but other than that, same ol', same ol'." "You exercise five to seven hours a day, you get to eat," she replied, "Still seeing that pretty boy? Anchovy? Anarchy?" "Anthony," June replied with a grin: "And no. Turned out he dealt in imported animal meat, mostly cat meat from China." Lara laughed, "Given a room of available guys you always go for the animal molester." "I don't see you doing any better." "Well, with work and all–," Lara started but was interrupted by June, "You just don't have the time to throw on a dress and hit the town." "It's just that the guys there all seem to be looking for a quick shack and then be off. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy that once in a while, but there is never even a single string attached." "True." "And I already got a library of one-night stands done and a museum. I just want something more than just sex, you know?" The waiter came up with a slight blush: "Enjoying the drinks?" Both girls agreed and Pouncer was still drinking merrily. "What are you eating?" Lara answered: "I'll have a lasagna and she'll be having nothing. Girlfriend's got a bikini shoot today." June blushed and shot a glance at Lara as the waiter gave June the elevator look. The look only a guy can give a girl scanning her body from head to feet, then back to the head judging the appeal of her body like a butcher gently going over the bone and muscle structure of livestock before bringing out the cleaver. "I've got to stop letting you in on my schedule," June answered, "And I'll take the chicken and bacon sandwich actually. Want to split some onion rings?" Lara lit up and said in amazement, "Absolutely." The waiter smiled and Lara summoned a backpack and drew from it a blue bowl with the name "Pouncer III," engraved along with a Ziploc bag. The dog immediately sat up and stared fixedly and intensely at Lara who paid him no attention. "What about your photo shoot?" "I'll blow it off. I got better things to do," June replied. "Such as?" "Hanging with you. We're hitting the movies and then we could have a video game marathon? If you don't have other plans." "None," she replied with great enthusiasm: "What are we watching?" "Pacific Rim looks awesome." A moment of silence passed and Lara said with a smile, "Are you ill? Are you dying? Last movie we went to was that gag-fest Marley & Me to sate your insatiable hunger for Aniston movies." "I'm fine. Just want to expand my horizons a bit. And Marley & Me was awesome. I thought you'd like it. It had a dog in it. And Owen Wilson." "I'm not into blondes," replied Lara: "And it's all just the Hollywood version of love. It has nothing to do with the real world." "Except for people wanting just that sort of thing," argued June. "I suppose, but only at most one half percent of the people who want it will ever get it. The rest will be let down and have to settle for a guy that is only sort of good by Hollywood standards." June smiled: "I guess it is a little over the top, but the dream is always nice." "I had a dream last night that I was paid a Benjamin each time I whacked a mole at the circus. Oh, and I had four arms in the dream and I woke up drenched in sweat of terror that I was going to drown in the money. Dreams are good, but they rarely come true. Hell, they even rarely have anything to do with the real world." "You wanna go to the circus?" asked June with a giggle. "God no, last time I almost got beaten up, remember?" "Yeah, turns out you mastered the hammer game," reflected June. "The high striker," commented Lara: "And the bodybuilding macho macho man behind me rocked a massive inferiority complex and some mommy issues," and both girls laughed by the nostalgia. Their food arrived and Lara poured the contents of the Ziploc bag into Pouncer's bowl and they all ate at once. The conversations continued through the meal in a similar fashion.

They eventually hit the movie after a brief detour to drop off Pouncer at Lara's condo. Agreeing that the movie was indeed good, a feature Lara had expected and about which June had been sceptical, the rest of the day the girls spent shopping before settling down for dinner at a rather homely restaurant not two blocks from Jonas's shack. I usually loathe when June goes shopping as she regularly use my credit card rather than her mother's, but that day she did bill the harpy for her spendings and it was soothing to learn this a few days later that the girls had a good time at the considerable expense of the bitch harpy. At dinner, the girls both had Buffalo wings and beer. Slightly tipsy and in the best mood they retired to Lara's condo to play some cooperative video games on the PlayStation 3 and pass the evening. As far as I understood, they started by playing Fast and Furious: Showdown and ended up taking turns playing from cut scene to cut scene of The Last of Us. It was nine in the evening and the sun had almost set before events connected to this story started to unfold when June said the words: "I got something to show you." "I've been to one of your bikini shoots. Keep your top on," Lara replied with a grin. With a drunken laugh, June replied, "Ha, no, a guy. A real nutcase." "You know I can't laugh at the hobos." "He's not a hobo. He works at my dad's firm." "Why is he a nutcase?" "Because he changes personality every few hours, accent and all." "That's just sad," replied Lara: "We should go play pool instead." "Pool house is closed tonight. Besides don't you have work tomorrow?" "Nah, I am having a 5 day weekend. Been forever since I had a day off and apparently my boss thinks I deserve it." "Come on. He even claims his parents vanished yesterday." The smile on Lara's face vanished with the blink of an eye and she paused the game. "This is starting to sound like work," she commented: "Good. Let's go see this whacko." And the girls quickly cleaned the house and hailed a cab. None of them was in any condition to drive at this point.

The cab pulled up at the overgrown garden where June had 'lost a pair of heels in the heat of battle against the bushes' as she put it when they arrived. Jonas was sitting in the dusty living room with four plates piled on top of the TV watching Cheers in stony silence as he had done the night before. "Let me check if our H.Q. has something on this address before we go in. Can I borrow your phone? I left mine at home," Lara asked and June handed her iPhone to Lara. 36 missed calls and several messages from the harpy along the lines of: "Where are you!?" "You missed your shoot," and "You are in so much trouble girl. Pick up the phone!" of course phrased in capital letters and with more profanities. Lara cleared her throat and after a brief call, she hung up and handed the phone back to June: "Nothing. No reports, no nothing. House is abandoned in our archives. Has been for around 5 years." June put the phone back in her purse without heeding the missed calls or the harpy's texts: "He's a squatter?" "Seems so. Let's go find out." Lara knocked on the door and waited for a second when June broke in: "Guy's mentally in Boston, sweetie. Wouldn't even notice if a bomb went off outside his window." "How do we get in then?" June tried the door. It was locked and from what she recalled from the night before probably also bolted on the inside.

The Smelly Truth

The Smelly Truth

Living with a silence hater, who must have the TV on when doing anything, I must say I have watched more TV adverts than ever before in my life. Somehow I pay more attention to them than to the Friends episode that I've seen about hmmm 15 times? Is it because they are so bright or just because a lot of the products are new and different? I don't know, however what did really popped out at me was this. 

All these adverts show you products that we all seem to need, desperately need! Just think about it and their explanation makes sense, you should be convinced by this sales talk. Yes, you'll think 'that is the whole point of an advert!' but a pattern unfolded before my eyes. I noticed a 'Need (re)Cycle' going on of late. Let me explain with an example.

Air fresheners

Advert 1:

Oh look we have this fabulous air freshener you can place anywhere and it will make your house smell like summer time!

Initial reaction is 'oh yeah great idea!', I can put this nice looking thing anywhere and press it when I want to freshen up this space. A couple of weeks later this thing is standing on your dresser, collecting dust… And low and behold in the commercial break during the 3400th Friends episode, there is a new smelly stuff advert.

Advert 2: airfresheners

Look at this, no longer any need to press anything, this beautiful air freshener it goes 'PFouwT' every 12 1/2 minutes! Giving you the exact freshness you will need to impress all your friends!

First thought, 'Nice! Lets face it mine is there but I always forget too press it and the initial freshness is like sitting next to uncle Lou who likes to shower in his aftershave' And yes your next trip to Tesco's you can't resist this new and improved freshness bringer. The following weeks/months your trips to Tesco's contain more than usual air freshener refills and batteries… to the point where you give up and it just stands there as another ornament on your dresser (Good thing it looks like a pretty rock!). As if the air freshener people felt the drop in refill sales, there it is the new advert in another awesome lipping episode of Glee (I don't know why I watch it I don't even like it but it always ends up on the telly in our house…).

Advert 3:

Now plug your favourite air freshener in a plug socket, forget about batteries! Every now and then if will fill the air with a flower smell that will make a bee dizzy!

Oh my, now there is a solution to my battery problem! So yes again I was completely convinced this was what I needed… And this thing ends up in the hallway plug. After running into it a few times, cursing myself a few times after finding out I didn't turn the power 'ON' on the plug socket. Explains why I only noticed only a flower smell when tying my shoe laces. But after the power slip up, it was spraying like a macho male cat and going through refills way too fast. So again I went back to my trusty smelly candles to give the house a nice atmosphere and smell. While dozing off to an episodeof Chuck, there they were again my air fresheners desire demons.                                  

Advert 4:

The new and improved non plug in air freshener from XXXX, no longer going through refills by spraying when you are not in. Control it yourself and make your house smell nice whenever you want it to smell nice! Just press it and the house will be filled with 'Smells of The Orient'.

Side Note: I don't know if you ever walked through Mumbai, which is one of the most intense and rewarding olfactory experiences on Earth. It's kind of like Avatar for your nose. Everywhere you turn, the thick, penetrating scent of unfiltered motor exhaust and water in gutters lingers. There's the salty smell of ocean mixed with tropical rot, air conditioning, and frying palm oil. Not really what I want my living room smelling like.

And that's when I noticed it… wait a minute! That is the exact air freshener I had before I started this whole fragrant dance! This IS advert 1, for crying out loud they are even using the same actors… oh gasp its the same exact advert! So every few months, this whole cycle starts over again -> old becomes new -> bad becomes better…

After my epiphany I started to look at adverts differently and this same cycle happens for shampoo (all in one, separate shampoo and conditioner, for all hair types, for just one hair type), face crème (day-night, combined, one skin type, all skin types, …),… Are we becoming this saturated with ideas that there is no room for new ones? Have we come to the point where innovation becomes reinvention of old ideas? It is a scary idea but "Is this what the future will bring?", I wonder, while relaxing in my sofa, my lavender candle casting a comforting glow over the living room and the scent of the Provence filling my nose. Sometimes old fashioned ideas are not the worst after all…

I Have Dystechnology

I Have Dystechnology

I used to be really good at computers and programming and stuff. I had Macs (of course), learnt QXP “the hard way” (school yearbook layout in 48 hours) on a Classic (yes! It is possible to do double-sided A4-layouts on a 3” screen!!!), had my first internet experience in 1992 (UNIX is still my favourite. Probably why I also love r).

Then something happened… I started working on PCs. Running Windows. First 95, then XP, then Vista, then 7. And I lost it all! I’ve lost my ability to acquire new technological knowledge!

And it’s not just computers. Any kind of technological device has me gripping manuals for fear of drowning, and even machines I use regularly baffle me. And I used to use all kinds of intricate machinery – which one does, when one studies/works with analytical chemistry, radiochemistry, microbiology, we’re surrounded by machines! And they all hate me.

And don’t get me started on mobile devices. My newest phone is a Nokia N95, which has been with me since October 2008. I dread the day that it can no longer charge, because then I will be completely lost. It’s a good thing that Nokia still makes stupid-phones, for those of us who have no idea how to use the smart ones. And I could never ever switch to a different brand, cos then I would be stuck not knowing where anything is on the menus!

Then again – do I really need a smartphone? I can make calls, send messages and take photos with my N95. I can also use twitter and facebook and (if it’s in a good mood) send an email. And (most importantly): I can still communicate with people! I can actually have a conversation with someone without having to check my “smart” phone for new instagrams or word feuds (and I don’t think it’s because I am boring company). I am not reliant on wifi and electricity to read a book. If I go for a walk, I don’t need to know how far or how fast I walked, and I certainly don’t need to tell people how fast/slow I move. I don’t need to announce how hot/cold it is and where I am. Seriously, do these people not worry about burglars? “Hey all, look at me, I’m abroad and it’s 30C and I’m not coming home for a fortnight! Anyone wanna burgle me? Here’s my address and no I don’t have an alarm”…

I may be technologically challenged, but at least I’m not stupid. And I sometimes feel that smart phones make stupid people. Not going to say all – I don’t want to insult friends! – but they’ve made a lot of people stop thinking rationally.

Conclusion: start your life with Apple, UNIX and VMS and move on to PCs: real-world smart, technologically stupid. Start off with Windows and move on to iPhones, iMacs, iPads and iLose – lose complete control of what kind of things are smart to publish online. Watch out, Skynet is coming!!!