ANDREW JOHNSTONE is building up a priceless collection of useless technology… in his back cupboard.
Bloody iPad. I only got it because I needed something in a hurry and it was all I could afford. It was never adequate and sort of clumsy. That was three years ago and lately every time I use the video camera (the feature I use) it’s been flashing up a message that says that all the memory is used up. The fuck it is. There is nothing on it.
Bloody iPad. I Googled it, and though I really wasn’t in the mood to watch instructional videos I did, sort of, and probably stuffed it up. I shut it down in preparation of a reset that would fix the problem and when I turned it back on it wanted my iCloud login and password. The what, bro? Yep, until I addressed this issue I was locked out.
I vaguely remember doing something years back but nothing I could think of worked, so I Googled it again. After watching another long video I figured out how to reset the password via my laptop and then went back to the iPad and logged on, or tried to. Ah, Jesus Fucking Christ sitting on a tulip tree and weeping over spilt milk!
Bloody iPad. I was using the video to record the progress of my new garden. I was going to edit it together and do a witty voice over. It would be viewed a billion times and I would make my fortune. They would call me The Soil Making Millionaire and when people saw me on the street they would call out ‘Make me some soil, man!’ More dreams lying shattered on the potholed pavement of life.
Bloody iPad. After a while I calmed down. Never make a decision or Facebook post while your blood is boiling. It’s nothing but a prelude to a shitload of trouble. Calm, I made my decision. It’s done and dusted, settled, no looking back, and frankly after the shit it put me through today, a relief.
Bloody iPad’s been put away. Any technology that is surplus to requirements is put away and maybe one day after my death a cupboard will be opened and there it all is, old tech that has mostly disappeared from the face of the earth, a treasure for someone.
It’s amazing how quickly dated technology recedes from reality. I was trying to locate a VCR awhile back. Nada, zilch, zap-zip. How many hundreds of millions of were manufactured? Now they are all in landfills, or recycled or broken or missing a vital component. The few remaining working models are like gold dust. Same goes for early model cars, TVs, radio cassettes… it’s a long list.
I have always liked old tech. I remember as a kid sitting in front of my neighbour’s 1940s multi-band valve radio listening into Communist China and Soviet Russia and a whole lot of other stuff that made no sense. I liked the way the distant voices ebbed and flowed like waves drifting on a sea of hiss.
I could sit for hours in front of my grandparent’s radiogram fiddling with the tuner and tone. Same with the wind-up gramophone I pulled down from their attic. My favourite 78 was by American comedy duo Amos and Andy. Looking back it was kind of racist, but I didn’t know about things like that yet.
Inside the radiogram was a selection of outdated LPs including a double disc by Stan Freberg, the Lil’l Abner sound track and a 45 by Bing Crosby and Lois Armstrong called ‘Gone Fishing’. Still love that song. Listening in on a world that had largely passed into time felt like a special secret to the youthful me.
I was enchanted by the rich timbre of those old valve machines. I remember sitting with my mother’s mother in her living room, lights dim with some deep-throated crooner casting enchantment across the ether. Grandma, a moody sort, said uncharacteristically: “I hope you grow up to have a voice like that.”
Later I made a little collection of valve radios. If I remember correctly I left them at the recycling shop at the Hamilton Transfer station along with every Flying Nun record from the first 4 years, all unplayed and in original wrap and some records autographed by the maker, former Monkee and country rock pioneer Mike Nesmith. The man hates the commerce of autograph selling and never signs anything. They were quite something and all first editions as well.
I always mean to keep stuff but every now and the weight of it presses down on my psyche and I have to free myself from it, but this time as I survey the little collection growing in a backroom cupboard I am determined to maintain it for the reasons expressed a couple of hundred words back. Chances are, it’ll look like so much junk to someone and end up on the roadside awaiting collection. Such is life.