Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Mine's smaller than yours
Every now and then, there is a no-news day, but I think the last one was in the late 1930s as Hitler was making plans to invade the rest of Europe. The BBC announcer said something like, "Nothing of note has happened today, so here is some music."
I sit drinking coffee in the kitchen every morning, and one or two things always filter through into my dawning consciousness. This morning, it was the confirmation that MH370 has probably ditched into 23,000 feet of water in a remote part of the Indian Ocean, though they cannot confirm this right now. The probability of this was established by a British team (hooray!) using seven pings to a satellite over many thousands of miles.
The next item was about British prisoners being denied books sent to them by friends and relatives, setting the penal system back about 150 years to when the Victorian humane societies lobbied to allow inmates access to libraries for self-improvement reasons.
At first, I thought this was a massive retrograde step, but then I remembered someone telling me - in 1970 - that they had managed to smuggle 5 micro-dot tablets of LSD into Canterbury gaol by disguising them as full-stops in a worthy tome about gardening or something. I wondered at the time who on earth would want to take acid in a prison.
I made a visit with this girl to her boyfriend in Canterbury gaol once, and this was the first - and hopefully last - time I ever set foot in a prison.
The night before, she had cooked a huge Dundee cake for her boyfriend and she gave it to one of the guards for inspection before the he handed it over to him in our presence. As he took it away, I made some sort of joke about there being a file in it, but the guard didn't think it was very funny.
Just as the guard handed it to the inmate and stepped almost out of earshot, the girl said to her criminal boyfriend in a hoarse whisper, "There's an ounce of hash in that cake!" I was horrified, and expected to be arrested for supplying for the rest of the visit.
As mobile telephones became smaller and smaller, it became easier to get them into prisons by stuffing them into dead pigeons and throwing them over the perimeter wall into the exercise-yard. Presumably, now that they are getting a lot bigger again, they have to throw dead foxes over the walls instead.
It has always made me laugh about the shrinking and expanding cycles of mobile phone technology, and how men went from saying how big theirs was to how small theirs was, in comparison to everyone else's.
The first mobile I ever used was basically a car-battery with a finger dialling ring and full-sized hand-set attached to it. Then they all turned into objects which came to be derisively referred to as 'bricks', by men whose innovative batteries had allowed a keypad to be made which was too small to be used by an adult hand.
Then they started digging up rare earths just to make screens touch sensitive and allow as big a keyboard as would fit into the screen, and so had to make the screens bigger to accommodate them.
Just before he died, Steve Jobs unveiled a mobile which was so big, that it was pretty much the same size as your average laptop, but without the protective lid that all conventional laptops have to protect them, so a whole new industry was developed to make cases for these tablets so you didn't accidentally break the expensive screen.
My latest phone is somewhere between a very small one and a larger model with basic, steam-powered internet available on it. I have - it has to be admitted - turned off the parental-control feature and Googled up a couple of pictures of naked ladies, just to see if I could.
On a screen the size of mine, there is a lot of guesswork based on years of previous experience involved when trying to work out even the sex of a naked human, so I won't be wasting too much time on this again in the future.
When I was a kid, I longed for a tiny - impossibly small - television set which I could take to bed and view under the covers, but I had to wait until I was about 40 before they had invented one.
When I saw this little T.V. for sale in a magazine, I had to buy it, just to fulfil a childhood dream. It was even colour - way beyond my 10 year-old wildest ones.
H.I. and me quickly discovered its limitations as we huddled around it, vying for head-space. Football matches turn into spot-the-ball competitions, and foreign films become nicely composed images with incomprehensible dialogue, spoilt by a piece of white cotton running across the screen beneath them.
We have only watched two things on this little thing from start to finish: 'Ben Hur' and the funeral of Princess Diana - both epics.