A RATHER dispiriting BBC poll last week suggested that the number of people who think immigration should be reduced is the same in Scotland and England. Really? Can there be such a similarity between the country of Nigel Farage and this one, which has long benefited from people coming to make their lives here, to raise their families and grow their businesses, to study and work here, just as Scots have done all over the world?
Can a country that has always welcomed far fewer people than England be equally susceptible to the scaremongering that passes for political debate provoked by the rise of parties with dubious membership and even more dubious policies? Well that’s what the poll said. But I don’t think that to say attitudes are the same is true, in part because the question the poll asked was about immigration levels in the UK, not in Scotland. And it also asked whether the level of immigration had been “good or bad” for the country, but it didn’t specify which country. I don’t mean to be pedantic but I think it’s worth being precise when it comes to a topic that’s such an easy target for people who want to dodge the more complicated reality of the mess we are in. And that’s got hee-haw to do with “immigrants”.
Watch out for another expensive Apple gimmick
I AM a fan of the wristwatch. My most treasured possession is the one my parents gave me for my 21st birthday. It was my dad’s, the one he wore when I was little. I used to retrieve it from his wrist as soon as he got home from work. The silver bracelet was wide enough that it could wrap around my bicep with room to spare. It’s an automatic winding, perfect-time-keeping delight. It has the date on it too. But in terms of features, that’s it.
It’s not just this special watch I cherish. I have kept pretty much every one I’ve ever owned – the good, the bad and the ugly. Even the ones that no longer work. They live in two jars on a chest of drawers in my bedroom. It’s not a collection of Audemars Piguets and Breitlings. There’s a blue plastic one that stopped working when I went under a waterfall in Argentina, a Sekonda with a broken strap, a Paul Frank skull and crossbones number and a Casio G-Shock when they were all the rage. You get the picture – I like watches. But my question is who in the name of Steve Jobs would spend more than thirteen grand on an Apple Watch?
They don’t all cost that much. The cheapest versions are £299 but you need an iPhone too, so once you’ve bought that you’re talking not far off a grand. And this being an Apple product, if you want a replacement strap you’ll need to shell out for one and they come in at £129 for leather or £379 for a stainless steel link bracelet. Listen, it’s Apple, you might’ve expected to be charged for each of the 12 numbers on the face. And I’m not even going to mention software updates.
Am I being a bit too austerity about this? Should I allow myself to be dazzled by the functionality and simply accept that you get what you pay for? OK, I’ll try.
How much would it be worth to you to have a watch that knows what recipes you’ve looked at in your recipe apps and so therefore writes a shopping list accordingly? Or can tell you the tune that’s playing in the pub. Or one that will allow you just to wave your wrist near to a till in order to pay for whatever you’re buying? Or that will allow you to monitor yourself infinite detail – how many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you’ve burnt, how much time you’ve spent on social media, or learning Mandarin. You’d probably have to pay me to wear one.
The real gimmick of the Watch is not that it tells the time, but that it will supposedly save us time. If, as Apple estimates, we each take our smartphones out of our pockets, unlock them, open an app and check a message, or two, 90 times every day (others reckon we do it much more than that), that’s a lot of time used. If all of that happens with just a flick of our wrists think of how many seconds we’ll save giving us even more time to tweet and text and update Facebook. And all that wear and tear on our pockets we can avoid. And just think what charming company we’ll be.
Start a chain reaction
IT’S exciting news that there’s going to be a new railway in the Borders soon. Imagine the lovely trips we’ll all be able to take, especially us keen cyclists who can’t wait to ride through some of the most beautiful countryside in Scotland as well as on some of the best bike tracks in Europe. Well, all two of us per train who can take our bikes on board. Apparently everyone else is supposed to hire bikes when they arrive at their destination. Two bikes per train? Even in car-dominated Los Angeles the buses can carry three bikes on a contraption mounted on the front grille. Come on people, get with it.