Monday, August 02, 2004
The Machine Stops
It used to be just plants and flowers that died on me. I've only to walk into a room or a garden centre, and wisteria wilts and cacti cower, and it's never a good year for the roses when I'm around. Now it looks as though technology's had it with me as well.
My freezer was the first to go. I returned home a while back from a Saturday-morning food-cruise round Borough Market (over-hyped, over-priced but the classiest produce market in the capital), to discover that what had once been a well-stocked larder was now a mush of soggy cardboard, gelatinous ready-mades, lukewarm Absolut and an amorphous mess that in a previous life had been a couple of ostrich steaks, but now wouldn't have looked out-of-place in an early Star Trek episode, all swimming in what remained of enough ice to sink half-a-dozen Titanics.
(By the way, the ostrich steaks had been on special offer a while back and were only in the freezer while I worked out what to do with the bloody things. Pop round chez Stranger and you'll get microwaveable Marks and Sparks Café Culture just like everybody else and be glad of it.)
Except that you won't, as my microwave seems also to have pinged its parting ping, either through over-use, or possibly as a consequence of the two eggs which exploded earlier that morning as I tried to poach them for breakfast.
And in the evening, and after the pizza delivery boy had finally delivered my American Hot, and I was considering settling down to watch a bunch of other pizza delivery boys deliver a rather different kind of American hot, the video clunked into inaction as well.
(And no, I am not one of those queens incapable of correctly setting the VCR for Will and Grace. This twenty-first-century Stranger can multi-program that little box of delights in the dark, both hands tied behind his back, whilst executing a halfway decent arabesque and singing Buggles' greatest hits backwards. And anyway, he hates Will and Grace.)
Machines are breaking down all around me. The alarm didn't wake me up this morning, although that's really down to the number of Sunday-night Stellas. My phone hasn't rung for the past few days either, but then that's probably just because I don't have any friends.
Yet last night, strolling home down the charming, leafy lanes of N7, skilfully stepping over the syringes and crack-whores, the overhead street lamps started to splutter out one by one by one, just as I passed by. Coincidence? I feel like a walking Masque of the Technological Red Death, and already my PC's eyeing me warily, wondering if it's going to be the next to get it.
One thing's for sure though. Whatever's going on, John Lewis is going to make a small fortune out of me this month.