Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 4 January 2014
Choosing one's own wallpaper
Every now and then, our iMac decides to revert back to the default screen-saver, which is a swirly, lurid and galactic sort of thing which makes you feel a bit nauseous to look at for any longer than a few seconds. This is what happened on January 1st, and I wonder if it happened last New Year's Day as well.
For about a year, we had one of H.I.'s nocturnal paintings up, but this time I have replaced it with the above. I tried a few more dramatic pictures, but found them too distracting, so settled on this for the time being. Quite restful, and plenty of blue yonder to clutter up with thumbnails. With some of the others, the thumbnails hid themselves amongst the foliage of beautiful landscapes, or amongst the folds in the flesh of naked women. Ok, I lied about the last one.
Computer screen-savers have taken the place of the framed family photo on the desks of office workers these days, and I have seen family photos being used as screen-savers on some people's computers.
Don't get me wrong - I like my family, but the last thing I want to see when the machine lights up is all of them grinning at me before they get obliterated by the Google home page.
Before the modern pixilated screens, you had to be quite careful of what image to choose, because ones with hard lines tended to burn themselves on tube screens, and their ghosts could be seen forever when the screen went blank. They tried to avoid this by having an irritating ball which bounced back and forth from all four sides of the screen, changing colour and covering the entire area over a period of about 3 minutes. It was quite possible to get completely distracted by that as well - as if you were watching a meaningless game of Ping Pong.
My first computer was a black and white Amstrad, and if left to it's own devices for longer than around 5 minutes of inactivity, it would suddenly turn into the windscreen of the Starship Enterprise as it hurtled through deep space at around warp-factor 1.
I would have loved that as a child, and would probably have turned the thing on just to watch the stars silently whoosh past the periphery of the screen, imagining myself on a voyage with no end, sitting in my capsule and watching the Universe go by.
The original Mac screen-savers were a very similar blue to the above, and had wisps of static smoke draped around to break up the monotony. I didn't mind those, which was just as well, because you could not choose your own wallpaper in those days.
Choosing wallpaper to make the best of a bad situation:
When I was a kid, my parents caught me sleepwalking one night and worried that I would throw myself out of one of my bedroom windows.
The next morning, I was puzzled to see my father enter my room carrying a bundled of black-painted, metal tubes and an electric drill.
He began to screw the tubes to the wooden frames of the windows which opened, forming two bars per window. I asked him what he was doing, but he would not explain. There were many things that went unexplained in my childhood, and I had learnt not to press the question too hard, just accepting my mother's scant explanation that it just 'had to be done'.
If, I decided, my bedroom was to be turned into a prison, then I would go the whole way with the fantasy, and I made a deal with my parents to assist me in return for my accepting the bars without question.
I went to a shop the next day, and chose a type of photographic wallpaper which simulated the grey, dank stonework of a real prison or castle, then I got my father to cover the walls of the room with it.
As with most things in those days, there was a compromise to do with cost, and only one wall was hung with the stone wallpaper, but that was enough to be as oppressive as the situation would allow.
For the next year or so, every time I went to bed at night, I imagined myself to be locked into a dungeon until breakfast time the next day, and I found this fantasy very comforting.