The Internet and Christmas - Here we come!!!

One of the great things about the proliferation of PCs and the internet in our everyday lives is that it makes the world seem just that wee bit smaller for a wee country boy from Ireland living on the continent, away from family and friends.

For instance, I can sit here in the office at the client site, quite feverishly beavering away at the keyboard looking to all intents and purposes like somebody that’s actually Doing Some Work when in fact I’m emailing family, friends, or, as in this case, writing for my blog.

However - unfortunately for me, this easy form of communication that I have at my disposal only serves to add further weight to the “I am a bad son / brother / mate” theory because, when you get down to it – I am terrible at keeping in touch.

Long gone are the days when my dear NaNa would greet the early morning post with a flutter of hope and expectation that there would be hidden within the bills and junk mail a letter or a postcard from her eldest grandson – the Intrepid Explorer, sharing a little anecdotal tale from some far flung corner of the world, like Duffel, for example.

Or even just a simple “Hello Nana – I hope you are keeping well. Lot’s of Love. Me”

But no.


Then - just when she had come to terms with the fact that her eldest grandson was, in fact, a Selfish Twat, with far too much going on in his little corner of the world that he couldn’t find the time to write anything to her, fresh hope arose like a phoenix from the ashes of her disappointment in the form of EMAIL.

Through the magic of the internet, messages could instantly be sent and received from anywhere on the planet.

Except to or from my Nana’s wee bungalow back home.

But never fear! My mother came up with the solution. They would get email!! Hurrahh!

Cue much rejoicing in the family. Here we were, truly throwing ourselves with wanton abandon into the 21st century! The technological age was waiting for no man, woman or indeed, Nana and we were making bloody well sure that we were getting on that super-highway along with the rest of the world.

Except - it didn’t quite work like that….

Wary of the demons that lurk in the internet’s darker recesses and let’s face it – even some of it’s most public of places, mum was not keen on the idea of bringing full-blooded internet capacity into the home.

And who could blame her? I mean – take last week for example…..there I was doing some research for an article on my two favourite birds - robin red breasts and blue tits that I was planning to write and I have to admit, I was shocked and stunned at what I found.

So in order to avoid “all manner of filth” coming into their home – a compromise was reached and they purchased a rather snazzy Amstrad telephone with email capabilities.

Perhaps some of you know the phone that I mean but perhaps for those that don’t, I should, at this point, explain just what “email capabilities” referred to.

Basically, we are talking about a rather quite gorgeous all-singing and all-dancing telephone (phone book, speaker phone, big display) but with the additional feature of a keyboard.

A keyboard which is roughly the equivalent size of a nicotine patch – a patch which I can tell you, you will be in more than desperate need for by the time you type anything out of any great length on the damn thing.

So tiny are the buttons on this thing, that you are totally unaware of the quite convincing Mr. Magoo impression that you’re doing as you squint, hunched over the phone, as you search hopelessly to find the desired key. And then - even when you do find it, you end up suffering the ignominy of pressing three (wrong) buttons at once before embarking on a crusade to find the delete button to undo all your typos.

It is more frustrating than a Chinese finger puzzle, played outside at the North Pole, wearing nothing else other than your undergarments and a grimace.

But here’s the thing folks.

Did you think that stopped my Mum from emailing me paragraph after paragraph of tales and updates from back home?

Of course it didn’t.

Did you think it stopped my mum from bollocking me on a regular basis?

Not a bit of it.

On regular occasions, my inbox would suddenly become weighed down with a dose of motherly advice, covering such diverse subjects as looking after myself, staying out of trouble, eating healthily, not drinking so much, not partying so hard, sleeping more, exercising more, smoking less, stay away from that weird girl you introduced us to last. That sort of thing….

And all was good in the world again.

Nana could receive updates through her daughter about how I was getting on “on my travels” and I was able to keep up to date with family life back home. They even had the dubious pleasure of receiving my blog updates, delivered electronically into their little Amstrad telephone.

How they all managed to read it, I’ll never know.

Or maybe they don’t.

Hey! Wait a minute…..

And then – disaster struck.

Those Bloody Thieves (BT) decided to raise the phone bill to exorbitant prices and began to charge an arm and a leg for the privilege of receiving forwarded jokes, spam mail and the regular disappointment of another day going by with no communication from that Selfish Twat living over in Belgium, for I am ashamed to admit that the advent of email didn’t improve matters that much.

Deciding to cut their losses, the Amstrad was reduced to seeing out the rest of its days as a normal phone with a few useless add-ons - a bit like a skateboard with a car stereo.

Faced with the pressure of having to actually pick up the phone and start phoning home on occasions when I wasn’t actually looking for something, or having to actually post letters and post cards again, I was in a dilemma.

That is - until last night and a little phone call with back home produced a surprising development….

They were contemplating on buying a PC!!

Pretty mundane stuff I expect for most of you out there, but ground-breaking stuff for my family I can tell you.

Apparently unlimited internet broadband access is actually cheaper than what is charged to send emails on the phone, so mum was prepared to bite the bullet and get “hooked up to the net”.

The conversation also turned to Christmas and it was then that a wonderful plan was hatched between us all.

Being of the computer nerd persuasion, it will probably come as no surprise that I have two laptops in my possession. Ok, so one is mine and one belongs to my employers, but you get the idea – and I’m sure you can see where this is going here….

So it is with great personal pleasure I will be arriving home this Christmas with a laptop for home under my arm.

This is already a huge relief to me - that’s my mother and step-father’s Christmas presents sorted in one fell swoop!

Only another 10 to go.

To a totally committed anti-shopper like myself, the whole prospect of Christmas shopping makes me feel nauseous. This was in no way helped recently when I received an email from my youngest brother (ok – so I exaggerated the whole “I’m crap at keeping in touch with home” story). In this email - dated three weeks ago I might add – he casually informed me that he had ALL his presents bought!!

Here comes that nauseous feeling again…..

I’m sure if my mum had a choice, she would prefer me to come home with a nice homely bride under my arm; somebody who loves me for who I am and who wants to look after her eldest son but in the absence of anything remotely like that, she’ll have to make do with a second-hand laptop.

I’ll just have to make sure I take all the porn off it first.