Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Patience is a Virtue

I was born in another century... Well, I suppose we all were. The thing is, I was also born in  another age.

I have evidence of this.

As you know, I’ve had a bit of a wobbly few weeks. As part of my regimen for getting better, I took a weekend away. A couple of times a year I go away for a girly weekend with my pal, Birdy. We generally stay in city hotels. I get on a train on a Friday, and she and I spend Friday night and Saturday night somewhere posh. Then she pootles off home to her family, and the husband joins me for Sunday night before driving me home on Monday.

It’s a lovely arrangement. We shop and eat, and sit in hotel bars drinking cocktails. We watch movies and indulge in room service, and generally talk too much. Everyone should do it from time to time.

Last weekend we did something different. Last weekend we visited a Landmark Trust property. I’ve spoken of the Landmark Trust before. Dan and I spent four glorious days in Astley Castle last November.

It TOTALLY looks like this!
Birdy and I went off to Bedfordshireland to stay at Warden Abbey. It’s an Abbey and it stands in the middle of a field of bullocks. There are other creatures, too, bats and kites and honey bees, and crickets, rabbits and frogs. The place is positively alive with them. The house is old and gorgeous, and we loved staying there. We especially loved reading the log books. People have been staying at Warden Abbey, and using it as a holiday home, since 1976, so there are several log books with recurring stories of ghosts and battlements, of pear-counting and cows, of fire escapes, and of Mrs Siddons, the housekeeper. We spent several happy hours reading excerpts from the logs to each other. In fact, we spent an awful lot of time doing not very much at all. There was no radio, no tv, no wi-fi; in fact, there wasn’t any internet at all. There wasn’t so much as a landline, and to get a mobile signal we had to leave our phones in the kitchen doorway or go outside.

On Saturday morning, as I was lying in bed, thinking about making a cup of tea, my phone rang. Crikey! I had a signal! I had a chat with the husband and then looked at the strap at the top of the phone to see whether there was any chance at all of doing anything else... And there it was! 

I’ve got a smartphone... haven’t we all? I generally only use the smart part when I’ve got 3G on the strap. I think of the ‘E’ as Emergencies only, and the ‘o’ as zero cover. On this occasion, having had no signal for sixteen hours, and having written a blog on the train on the way to Bedford, that ‘o’ was looking mighty enticing. Birdy was in the shower, so I tethered the laptop to the phone, selected safari and wandered off to make a cup of tea.

There was stuff to do on the blog. I’d uploaded the text on the train, but I needed to find a couple of links, upload a picture, post the blog, and then plug it on FaceBook and Twitter. 

My first experiences with computers were back in the day... No, really! 

Mac DTP 1988!
After that, in the 80s, I worked for a company that published two magazines. The bloke that owned it bought a very smart, state of the art, desktop publishing set-up: Mac, obviously. It consisted of one CPU with four monitors, one large screen, which could show a double-page-spread, GASP! a flatbed scanner and a dial-up modem that took two days to send the words, and only the words, to be made up into bromides, which still had to be cut and pasted and made into plates for printing. The set-up cost about £25K, if I remember correctly, which was probably about what the bloke who owned the company was taking home per annum at the time.

There is vastly, and I mean VASTLY more tech in my smartphone than there was in my office in 1988, or 1998 or, 2003. 

Birdy is ten years younger than me, give or take. Every so often, during our morning together, she’d ask me how it was going, flabberghasted that I was still going. I made breakfast, which we ate, and I washed up. I got dressed. We chatted. We took ourselves out into the garden, arranged out deckchairs, talked some more.

All the while, in the background, I was working on posting my blog.

This is what it used to be like. This is how we used to do it when we relied on dial-up and when we shared phones, and when dial-up dropped out every time someone else picked up a phone. This is how it used to be.

Time expands and contracts and does funny concertina things. Desktop publishing was a real thing in 1988. It was science and technology and the future all rolled into one, and it was difficult and laborious and unpredictable, and it went wrong and it tripped up the people who were trying to use it. It was bloody difficult to use too, and not at all intuitive. Any fool can accomplish in seconds what it took talented people days or sometimes weeks to learn to do twenty-five years ago.

It took me two and a half hours to post my blog about chairs on Saturday, and I never did get around to plugging it. I also didn't set out with the expectation of simply sitting down and accomplishing something. Posting the blog was simply my background activity while I got on with enjoying my day.

Birdy wouldn’t have done it. Birdy claimed that after ten frustrating minutes she would have wanted to throw the laptop across the room.

Not me, I was born in another age. If it takes three or four hours to paint a picture or a week to knit a sweater or a month to complete the whitework on a table cloth or a year or two to hand-sew a quilt, I’m still going to do it. It’s still going to be worth it. Why should posting my blog be any different if the signal I have access to happens to be weak and slow... Heck, weak and slow is about all I can claim to be, some days!

Some of the things that are worth having are worth waiting for and some of the things that are worth having are worth working for. Men have worked with no expectation of ever seeing what they worked towards for millennia, when the work they undertook was scheduled over scores of years or even centuries. That's how cathedrals and pyramids got built, for heaven's sake.

What is an hour or two to us, or a week or a month? Sadly, for some of us, it is still too much time. 

I happen to know that while Birdy might not be as relaxed as I am about an internet signal, she has the patience of a saint when it comes to just about everything and anything else, but how many of us is that true of... and for those of us under 40... 30... 25 does it become less true?

I wonder.

No comments:

Post a Comment