Juliet Dunlop: I want a gadget that turns back time

I am an analogue woman in a digital age. There’s no point denying it. However hard I may try, I am a retired comedy colonel clutching an ear trumpet at a party full of young people: nods rather a lot but has no idea what anyone is saying.
Juliet Dunlop. Picture: Ian RutherfordJuliet Dunlop. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Juliet Dunlop. Picture: Ian Rutherford

That’s me and technology. It will always be the enemy and I will never understand it. Yes, yes, I can hear you (I have an ear trumpet, remember?). I know technology is marvellous and wonderful and has transformed all of our lives, but that hasn’t stopped me from raging against all manner of machines.

Take computers. Do we still call them computers? They freeze and shut down and do “updates” that you didn’t ask them to do. And they don’t respond to violence. Or cajoling. However much pleading you may do at midnight when the thing you’ve spent all day working on suddenly disappears, it never reappears. Then there are printers, my other pet hate. I have never worked in a newsroom where the printer has worked. The same goes for photocopiers, scanners and fax machines. But my grudge list isn’t only confined to the workplace: microwaves, mobile phones, timers on cookers, the clock in my car, burglar alarms – they’ve all caused minor meltdowns over the years.

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So imagine how it feels, as a Luddite living a lie in a gadget-crazy world, to learn that there’s a long list of items which are about to become obsolete. It’s like having the rug pulled from under your feet while wearing six-inch stilettos. It’s a wobble from which I may never recover, particularly as it includes old household friends, as well products which are still new and complicated.

Here are 2014’s Most Endangered Gadgets:

1. Alarm clocks. This worries me. Smartphones don’t tick or keep you awake at night. This is what an alarm clock is for. Plus, you can’t gaze, red-eyed at an iPhone all night. Where are the hands to mark the minutes and the hours that you’ve been lying there, wide awake? Remove the ticking, luminous clock and you also remove anxiety about sleeping in – for work, exams and the Harvey Nichols sale.

2. Stand-alone sat navs. This also worries me. I like my sat nav. I use gaffer tape to attach it to the dashboard of my car and it has never let me down (apart from every time I go to Glasgow.) An inbuilt sat-nav would also take up valuable space. Where on earth will the wine gums go?

3. iPod docks. I have one of these. It’s still in the box. I threw away the instructions after failing to transfer any music on to the shiny silver thing that’s supposed to sit on top.

4. Flip cameras. I don’t have one of these. I have a perfectly good digital camera with 200 pixels, whatever those are. I’ve yet to work out how the 7,000 pictures stored on it become actual pictures.

5. Blu-Ray players. Nope. Don’t have one. What is it and who is Ray?

6. DVD players. Yes, got one of these. Play CDs on it all the time. Although, I’ve never worked out how to record things and still don’t know who the murderer was in Broadchurch. I’ll have to wait until it comes out on video.

7. The watch. Now this really, really worries me. This is possibly worse than the alarm clock disappearing. I need to know the time, all of the time. In fact, I would wear more than one watch if I could. And no, I don’t think cats are better than children.

8. BlackBerrys. Only when in season.

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9. TV remote control. This is unthinkable. Even I have mastered the TV remote. I’m also old enough to remember getting up to change the channel and I never, ever want to go back to those days.

10. Small portable TVs. I own several. None of them get a reception. I am also old enough to remember when a portable was a top, top Christmas present. Surely this would still please any teenager?

So there you have it: the official 2014 dead zone. Read it and weep – it’s the future. All I can do is warn you – and pop this column in the post, of course. Just as soon as the ink is dry.