On the plane back from South Africa a fortnight ago, there was a young man across from me watching a film on an i-book. As I twisted my neck left to right and tried to find a comfortable position, he did not even attempt to sleep. Maybe, this is what I should do, I thought. Get me an i-book.
Except - I have this theory that I must not forget the past. Well, when you are my age, what you have is a past, not too much future.
Just going on a plane somewhere, anywhere, was a huge adventure when I started in 1957. Married two days before, I was ready to love that stranger my family had married me to, just for getting me on that plane. Days when you got weighed along with your luggage and the aircraft was a fragile Fokker Friendship, which rocked with every gust of wind from the Arabian Sea. Now I am so blase': I need assistance to sleep on a plane.
Careful here, I thought. I have resisted getting i-phones and i-books and all such, only carrying a basic mobile phone. All it can do is phone or text. No e mails, no web search. Come on! Is there anything in the world that cannot wait for me till I get home to my desktop?
There is my Kindle of course, on which I carry fifteen downloads when I travel. In abject fear that I shall find myself book-less in some God-forsaken hole like Blantyre, as I did once in 1997. Walking the pavements in search of reading matter when all they sold on the pavements was hard porn. Reading the advertisements in the Sunday newspaper in desperation, vowing I would never forget my reading matter again. So the Kindle instead of fifteen books as part of my twenty Kilogram luggage allowance. I call that a good choice.
So the Kindle gets prominence in my bum-bag. Along with my passport and survival plastic. That , I tell myself, has to be it.
Can you imagine the number of plastic tablets that the young rich travel with, even commuting to work daily? I-book, i-phone, Kindle... All soon out-of-date so they can buy a whole new generation of gadgets next year. They've got us hooked, those clever companies. I-phone 4 is being advertised recently. It claims to translate your voice into messages, which your wife can receive at the other end, no doubt on a second i-phone4 for the family. Can't we just talk anymore? Like on a pick-up-and-dial, or even a mobile?
Now I've got started on the consumer habits of this era, I shall not stop. Better save it for the next blog.