Category Archives: future

And so, the story never really ends …

An attempt to have a crack at a peaceful holiday in Cairns last February ended up being a six week invasion of Roo’s apartment complete with ambulances, paramedics and finally a trip to Townsville for the Hunter Gatherer to succumb to a heart operation – after which the rest of the year continued to deteriorate miserably as the HG lost both parents in quick succession and chaos descended on what hadn’t ever been a particularly peaceful existence in the first place.

Towards the middle of the year, Rocco decided to leave home and move to Melbourne for work. Being the final chicken to leave the nest, one would think Rocco’s mother would have wept and gnashed teeth – and that might certainly have been the case had there not been so much other stuff going down. There was certainly no time for Rocco’s mother to blog or write or even think straight – so it is with a certain amount of surprise she finds herself thinking reasonably straightish  once again, though astounded to find herself relocated halfway across the country in a partially renovated beach shack located within a flood’n’cyclone belt (but that’s another story), and far, far away from the softcock option of New South Wales’ idyllic south coast where she had become ensconced in arse-inflating comfort in a cosy room overlooking a nice garden, contemplating chocolate cake and the HG’s impending retirement and not thinking of weather conditions in every waking moment and having one foot permanently poised to flee.

How did all this happen?  Who knows – but it did. In July, after a harrowing few months of disarray, the HG and Rocco’s mother decided to take a short break to visit Flygirl in Darwin, returning via Cairns to re-visit Roo and get it right this time. The idea was to not have a medical emergency for a change, but to check out real estate with a view to maybe relocating ho-hum soonish whenever. Rocco’s mother didn’t at any stage imagine they would really be relocating. She and the HG were not, and are not particularly to this day, renowned for snap decisions, change or risk taking. Rocco’s mother is, however, a sucker for old Queenslanders (the houses, not the geriatrics), and spent many happy hours looking through the real estate liftout of the Cairns paper and even attending Open Houses. After a few of these, where various ‘renovator’s delights’ and ‘handyman’s dreams’ were offered for twice the price the present home in NSW would be worth, the HG informed her he wasn’t a fan of Queenslanders anyway and that there was too much work involved. In a way, this came as a relief to Rocco’s mother, who was already contemplating going home and resuming her arse-expanding sofa activities and not having to worry about termites, woodrot or, indeed, having to spend every waking moment of every available day wandering around Bunnings. Which is what eventually happened. It turned out the HG’s lack of enthusiasm for old Queenslanders was merely a matter of location. He didn’t want to live in the city – he wanted to live by the beach.

And so it was, on the final day of the holiday, Roo took the HG and Rocco’s mother to a northern beaches suburb where they phoned a real estate agent on a whim, and inspected what could only be described as a shack. Rocco’s mother wasn’t even taking much notice. There was plenty of termite damage, woodrot galore – one bedroom and a small alcove which didn’t have any business being called a bedroom but optimistically had been – and an outdoor dunny located on the back verandah, which tilted away at a crazy angle and felt as if it were about to collapse into the ground. Rocco’s mother was surprised to hear the HG asking animated questions of the real estate lad – and mildly alarmed when the RE lad informed them he’d had a quote for ‘around $10,000 to have the roof replaced’ – which would, of course, be immediately necessary for the unlucky purchaser to undertake prior to habitation. Alarm bells gave a distant jangle when the HG whipped a tape measure from his pocket – but Rocco’s mother knew their flight was booked for the next morning.

Imagine then, how fate intervenes and changes the course of people’s lives. At the airport the next morning, Rocco’s mother and the HG were bumped from their flight, and the afternoon saw them returning to the beach shack with an even more rigid tape measure and … whatever.

So it came to pass. The termite infested shack was duly purchased, the cosy home in NSW disposed of, and nothing will ever be the same again. As we speak, Rocco’s mother is sitting in the small room which could never possibly be considered big enough for a bedroom and which is, surprisingly, just perfect for a computer and not unlike the small office she had ‘back home’. Maybe things will be written here.

But that’s another story …

.oOo.

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The year of living vicariously …

So it’s here already – 2009. Somehow it arrived overnight, and this morning the old calendar went in the recycling, to be replaced with the January smiling face of Luna Park. This is probably meant to imply 2009 is going to be a good year. A fun year. We’ll see, won’t we? Rocco’s mother feels it’s far too early for enthusiasm. You can’t just go in there all trusting and la-de-da. You are most certainly likely to be shat upon, in order to be put in your place.

Rocco’s mother hasn’t made any resolutions. After all, if she’s enjoying doing it at the moment, she certainly isn’t likely to be wanting to give it up any time soon. The crap habits stay. This will, however, be the year of No Wank. There will be no Quality Time, no Getting Closure, no Absolutely Inner Child At The End Of The Day – or anything else which smacks of giving a damn. Because frankly, my dear, Rocco’s mother doesn’t.

Let’s face it, with the Hunter Gatherer and four Rt Honourables, surely there are enough people in her immediate family willing to do things on Rocco’s mother’s behalf? The only rule (which came into play when Flygirl went off to a military academy), is that Rocco’s mother only finds out what you’ve done after you’ve done it. Usually when the evidence is plastered all over Facebook. Rocco’s mother can then go, ‘woo woo WOO’ and be very impressed and feel she’s done it too. Not.

Rocco’s eldest sister, JoJo the Incredible, is going to help her husband build a house and plant a vineyard this year – in between amusing her two little girls, entertaining from scratch and being … well, incredible. Rocco’s mother gave her a pink tape measure for Christmas so she can measure things – because although JJ the I is one of the most enterprising and hard working young women Rocco’s mother knows, she still manages to be a girlie  and can easily lay bricks with one hand while balancing her chardonnay glass on the edge of the wheelbarrow with the other. Rocco’s mother has no understanding of how JJ the I came to be so I. It is baffling in the extreme.

Flygirl, Rocco’s second sister, will carry on as usual doing more skydiving, BASE jumping, hang gliding, hot air ballooning and making iced cupcakes in between sessions of scraping the mud from her combat boots. Rocco’s mother will wish she’d had the guts, several hundred kilos ago, to have done all those things. Sadly, even the cupcake icing is far beyond her capabilities these days. On a good day she can just about muster the energy to eat them. And that’s about all.

Rocco’s third sister, RooRoo, will be cool and elegant in 2009. She will whizz tirelessly backwards and forwards across the country dispensing cool drinks and hot towels and making encouraging noises to the mammoth lady in 10C who is desperately trying to pretend she doesn’t need the extension seat belt thingie. ‘Oh no, Madam – it’s not you, it’s us. Sometimes in the hot weather the seatbelts shrink. Please don’t worry that half your body is invading the space of the man next to you and, as we speak, oozing over his lap like some kind of invasive suet pudding on rollers. It’s of no consequence whatsoever – in fact, the gentleman is happy to have something to rest his laptop on – and could I bring you another pineapple muffin?’

Then there’s Rocco himself.  *sigh*. What are his plans for 2009? It is doubtful he has any, being the species of animal who plays it as it comes. The element of surprise is a Rocco trademark.  Hopefully, this will be the year he finishes his apprenticeship. Rocco’s mother still has hope it will be the year he meets his Moon Maiden. You remember, don’t you – the one with the degree in accountancy who can help him get his finances sorted? The one who will invite him to move in with her,  and fill his life with joy and abundance and delicious, squashy sofas filled with embroidered throw cushions? Rocco’s mother knows she is out there somewhere. (If she’s reading this, could she please contact CrimeStoppers immediately …  a small reward is offered.)

The Hunter Gatherer is going to do lots of gardening in 2009 and Rocco’s mother will sit on the back verandah with a long, cool iced coffee and watch him doing it. If he’d like to post photographs on Facebook (which he most certainly won’t), she’d happily go, ‘woo, woo, WOO’. As things stand, she will shout this over the railing to him and her words of encouragement (nay, gratitude), will waft gently through the palm trees and ferns and make him realise how much he’s appreciated.

Rocco’s mother is just about to open the new Barbara Vine novel and an extremely marvellous tin of marzipan chocolates. She will do these things herself, without any help from anybody. She wishes to thank the members of her family for making all this possible. Without them, she’d have been required to have a life …

.oOo.

Considering the pixilation of the species …

 

By the time you read this they will probably have fired up the Large Hadron Collider and who knows what hell might have broken loose? Some people believe there will be loud hallelujahs – and there may well be – but whether they find the God Particle or not, I dare say I’ll still have floors to clean, a particularly bad hair day and still won’t have any nice cake in the house, either. (In a shameless and brazen fit of self promotion, please refer to Archives, January 16 – Apocalypse soon.)

Technology has indeed come a long, long way – so I found it both quirky and hilarious to see a story on the news tonight about another story the news channel wasn’t actually allowed to show us yet (legal reasons and defamation being what they are) – regarding some terrorists. There followed a picture of the group of alleged terrorists in court with pixilated faces. Nothing too alarming about pixilated faces, I hear you say – and no, there isn’t. Except that the pixilated faces were on sketches of the alleged terrorists – not actual photographic terrorists at all. And even more hilarious was the fact that, poking jauntily out from below the pixilated bits, highly telltale bushy black Osama beards had been bravely rendered with a trusty Derwent No.66 – leaving not an awful lot to the imagination anyway. In this technological age I find it amazing there are still people with pencil pots sitting in courtrooms doodling frantically away – but to then use pixilation over the top of their efforts seems bizarre. Why couldn’t the court artists merely have done a big fat scribble right over the eyes and noses? Or covered them with an elephant stamp, even.

 

The very thought of anyone managing to build the Hadron Collider is mindboggling when you consider trains don’t run on time and I don’t run at all. And there are days it would be a very nice thing altogether to be able to have a pixilated face as one lurched from the safety of one’s home to face a world of beautiful people in order to collect the electricity bill and dodgy pizza voucher from the mailbox. It would be comforting (nay, only fair) to have a pixilated face when your knicker elastic fails miserably halfway down Aisle 3 of Food-o-rama – and again, when your cashcard doesn’t work as they swipe it in the machine and you are not allowed to take your carefully chosen groceries home with you. Especially when the stash contained a six-pack of chocolate eclairs and two-for-the-price-of-one toilet rolls.

 

A pixilated face would have gone down a treat in my wedding photo, too. And on every occasion Rocco’s hapless mother had to front up to a parent/teacher interview. And what about one’s driving licence? If there was ever a case for pixilation, those miniature horror portraits are surely it.

 

These days, graphic artists can work miracles on facial blemishes and cellulite with a mere sweep of the mouse. Models are smooth and glamorous and even-textured. How many hours does this take – and would it not be easier to just go, ‘ah, bugger it!’ and apply the pixilation tool? Sorry, Elle, Naomi and Heidi … we’re all sisters under the pixels! You, too, can have funny little fuzzy squares just like mine plastered all over your perfect countenances! No more zits or spots or nasty bits – or even unwanted facial hair.

 

In actual fact, I wouldn’t mind some pixilation over pretty much the whole of the past week or two. Possibly because my face did not have the benefit of a paper bag over it, my computer decided it could no longer bear to look, and blew itself up. I am doing this on Frankenputer – a machine the Hunter-Gatherer has kindly cobbled together for me out of random bits and pieces, and for which I am exceedingly grateful. Frankenputer, however, does not have my novel, my huge collection of photographs of abandoned buildings and images from ghostcams – and most definitely does not have Vista with widgets. If the data on the hard drive of my deceased machine turns out to be non-recoverable, I will need very strong pixilation indeed so the rest of the world is spared the sight of madness descending – and then rising up again – and then descending for the final time with a deafening and earth-shattering thud.

 

In fact, the Hadron Collider can then feel free to do its best work. I’ve heard those God Particles will pretty much pixilate the entire universe in a very unrecoverable way altogether  – and daft, petulant people with busted computers won’t even be worthy of a mention anymore. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much as things ought to be …

.oOo.

 

People who live in glass houses should turn off Google before removing their trousers …

Thanks to Google Street View, we can now virtually stand outside other people’s homes and stare without them knowing we are doing it. Spooky. It’s the best thing ever you can do without a pair of binoculars and one of those cars with blacked out windows and fake numberplates. I’m loving it. And especially the fact that the view of my house does not show me in my nasty dressing gown, shuffling out to the mailbox with a mouth full of chocolate to collect my free sample of incontinence pads. Which I feared it would. Bonus.

So here I am in my office at home, looking at your agapanthus and your strange, elasticless knickers hanging on your Hills Hoist. It’s a rather nice garden. Well, it would be if you had someone tow those two old car bodies from beside the driveway. Surely it’s about time you laid down the law regarding Jaysen’s old bangers? It’s lowering the tone of the neighbourhood – and you wouldn’t want that. And the lopsided old caravan he’s living in looks a bit of a mess out front, too. Doesn’t he earn enough to move into a nice little flat somewhere?

You really should get someone to mow your lawn. Your lazy, good-for-not-very-much husband, for instance. But I’m guessing he can’t, because I just happened to notice his car parked in front of the flats down near the SkankyMart. You know those flats … where that fake-breasted, man-stealing, floozy from his work  just happens to live. Your Darren must be working overtime, then. Or weekends, seeing as the school carpark is empty, which means it’s not a weekday. Funny he’d be doing overtime though, seeing as you’ve always said he goes fishing with his mates on the weekends.  You think? Or maybe someone else has a car like Darren’s. A lime-green 1920s Crapmobile with personalised Dazza plates. Probably pretty common, you’re right.

And oh, look! If you have a bit of a hover with your mouse over the McFattyBuns carpark, isn’t that your BreeArne in the skimpy little belt skirt, talking to those bikers? She looks so happy, waving her cigarette and showing those men the tattoo on her left breast. (If you zoom in, you can see it’s a rather artful little scroll which says ‘Shag me and weep’.) You always said BreeArne was a poetic girl, and a friendly one, too.  She certainly looks friendly – those men can’t keep their hands off her. Maybe they’ll take her for a nice ride on their bikes. Maybe they’ll weep.

If you continue on to the park, you’ll be amazed to see your youngest, Dwayne. He’s with some other little mates, and they’re huddled around the picnic table which seems, on zooming, to have a contraption made of a plastic bottle and some garden hose set upon it. Dwayne and his friends look very relaxed and happy. It’s nice to see young people enjoying life and availing themselves of the fruits of nature. Trees and leaves are good. And grass is, too. I can’t help thinking that looks like my garden hose – some of which is missing.

BreeArne’s artistry obviously runs in the family, because down at the railway siding you might notice your older son, Jaysen. He has a spray aerosol in his hand … and look, he’s made a mural! My goodness, you’ve brought up some public spirited young people, haven’t you? Jaysen seems to have recreated some of Hitler’s insignia – obviously as a sort of protest thingie, maybe. It’s excellent he’s so interested in history – and art. And that he’s merged the two. And that it’s all recorded for posterity. Lovely!

I can’t see you in your garden, though. You must have hung the dodgy knickers and gone inside to make a nice cuppa. It must be lovely to be able to rest and relax, knowing your family members are all happily occupied and getting the most out of life. Maybe you are at your computer, checking up on your family – just like I am. Ah, the wonders of technology!

That’s funny … I’d never noticed before that you have a red light above your front door. Are you running an emergency medical centre? Surely not. Ooh, I wish we could have Google Night Street so I could see what you’re up to! Maybe you’re just partial to a pretty rose-coloured light flooding your agapanthus.

Or maybe half the men in the neighbourhood come around after dark and knock … and weep.

.oOo.

The necessary gigabytes for a lifetime memory stick …

I can’t remember much these days. Sometimes I can’t even remember what I was thinking five minutes ago. So it would be really innovative if we could download the contents of our brains into a computer in order to rewind and replay.

It’s a constant annoyance to the Rt Hons that I (allegedly) tell them things ‘a million times’. It’s partly (I try to convince myself) because there are four of them, and I can never remember which one I told a particular story to in the first place. According to them, it’s because I’ve lost it. There is much sighing, eye rolling and gnashing of teeth. Also according to them, I don’t remember things they (also allegedly) told me five minutes ago. Sometimes I don’t remember which one of them told me something but I do remember what it was. And if it’s any consolation whatsoever to them, I do remember bringing them into the world. Most very definitely indeed and with loud hallelujahs.

The first thing I remember ever (I think) was being at Filey in England on a caravan holiday when I was about three or four. And the part I remember in particular was my Dad taking me into a milk bar and buying me a milkshake.  The milkshake was pink, and was in one of those tall, fluted glasses with a paper straw. The top was frothy, with huge bubbles. It smelt pink, and I can still smell it even now. It was lovely. I don’t remember whether my Dad had a drink, or the pattern of the formica on top of the table we were sitting at, but I remember Ketty Lester was singing Love Letters on a jukebox. You don’t hear that anymore, and I wish we did. It would be nice to do a rewind and watch it happening and see whether I’d got it right; but we can’t do that, of course, and I’m wondering whether it will ever be possible.

What gets remembered and what gets rejected? I don’t remember the furnishings of the house I was brought up in – but a few months ago while crossing the street in town I had an overpowering memory of the smell of the dinner hall at a school I went to 45 years ago. It came wafting over the road and knocked me for six. Horrible stew and spotted dick? Wherefore art thou, banana junket, in the middle of the day in an Australian country town? Which brain signals conjured it forth when I was thinking about purchasing toilet roll, posting the Telstra bill and goodness me, how could I have possibly left the house still wearing my slippers?

It probably says a lot about me that most of my memories are food related. It has, after all, always been about the food. I remember little glass bottles of orange juice arriving with the milkman before school, and having to drink it even though it was covered in frost. I remember taking Peek Freans tick tock biscuits (the square ones with nursery rhymes iced on them, not the crappy pretender ones you get today) to school and having them nicked every day by a bigger kid. I remember the smell of the cardboard cover on my primer. (No, I realise the cover of a primer isn’t food and I couldn’t have eaten it … but hasn’t sniffing a book  always been as good as jamming your nose into an open bag of Maltesers?)

 I have no idea, however, what the Hunter Gatherer wore to work this morning, or indeed, whether he wore anything at all. Seeing as I don’t remember washing or ironing it, this is a distinct possibility. If he has spent the day in blissful nakedness, I doubt he’d either roll his eyes or gnash his teeth at me, considering he was the one who came to breakfast wearing new glasses 20 years ago, gazed at his offspring who were artfully arranged around the table, saying, ‘Who are these people and where did they come from?’

I wonder whether your life really does fast-forward before your eyes as you are departing … and where do all the memories go after that? And if it’s ever possible for us to download the contents of our minds and watch them on our computer screens, I hope there’s a delete function for the strange and evil stench of every school dinner anyone’s ever had the misfortune to remember …

.oOo.

In which Rocco’s mother requests a moon maiden …

There was once a mother (and still is, actually) who, despite all odds because she isn’t one herself, managed to bring into the world three gorgeous and independent girlies. The girlies went forth with confidence and determination and did exactly what they wanted to do with their lives.

Then there was Rocco. Not that Rocco isn’t gorgeous and independent … and I dare say he feels he also has confidence and determination. He’s probably doing exactly what he wants with his life too, but it’s a bit hard to see because of the demolition site (oh sorry … that would be bedroom) in which he resides.

Rocco was a lovely little lad, and his three sisters were delighted to have him when he arrived.  There really wasn’t any sign of a vague and disorganised nature at all. His parents lived in relative bliss until Rocco started school. The first report card said, ‘Rocco has no interest in any aspect of school life whatsoever.’ That was pretty funny at the time because Rocco’s father admitted to feeling exactly the same way. And he’s a teacher.

So the years went by, and despite the aforementioned disorganised nature, Rocco was somehow able to obtain p-plates and purchase a car. It took only six weeks before his mother answered the phone one evening to be invited by Rocco to come down to the bridge please, because there’d been a bit of a problem. And the nice policeman would like to speak to her as well. The mother and father went down to the bridge, where Rocco’s car had taken out three panels of Council fencing and was perched half on the roadway and half in mid air. Rocco had owned the car for six weeks, which was a neat $1000 for each week it had been in his possession. The mother and father had another nice surprise some weeks afterwards when Council sent a bill for $800. Those fence panels certainly don’t come cheap, and it’s nice to know the authorities are on the job and want things fixed and made nice again quickly. At great expense to the management.

A few months later and probably unfortunately, Rocco was able to purchase another car. An older and cheaper version of the first. Precisely three weeks after that, on the morning of January 1, Rocco arrived home at 7am having been dropped off by friends. His mother, naturally still in her nightie and looking forward optimistically to what the new year might bring, calmly enquired as to the whereabouts of Rocco’s car. (Well, that sentence isn’t completely true, because in actual fact she screamed and pointed and stamped up and down like Rumpelstiltskin doing the shitkicker’s waltz.) Rocco explained that he’d tried to miss a kangaroo on his way home from a New Years’ Eve animal-type rage and his car was now crumpled in a ditch. The kangaroo, however, was fine – and it was pointed out the mother should probably be grateful Rocco had only suffered a mouth full of dirt and a slightly grazed knee. Happy New Year. The car had cost $3000 – so having owned it for exactly three weeks, Rocco was on a roll.

Rocco’s mother doesn’t really want to document the fate of the next car, because it’s pretty boring after the first two.  It must be said, however, that it cost Rocco $1000 and (ta-dah!) he owned it for an entire year.  That’s $19.23 per week, give or take. Which is not bad, considering.

Almost without fail, Rocco manages to have his EFTPOS card either chewed up by a machine, lost or stolen practically every week. He has the bank’s number on speed dial. When he phones to request a new card, a tired voice says, ‘Will that be your usual, sir?’ This is incredible, given that the voice belongs to a machine. Even technology is past being thwarted by Rocco. There are robots out there crying tears of sump oil. And through it all, Rocco maintains a benevolent smile and an air of calm. There is, after all, nothing to be upset about. The universe will take care of everything eventually. Like Scarlett said, ‘I’ll worry about it tomorrow.’

Rocco’s mother howls at each full moon to please send Rocco a lovely, organised girlie with a heart of gold. The moon puts its fingers in its ears and goes, ‘la la la la LA!’ Until this request is granted, Rocco sits amiably amongst the empty flavoured milk cartons, burger wrappers and strange examples of prehistoric underwear and softly strums on his guitar.

Whenever you’re ready, moon …

.oOo.

Dial 9 after the beep to go barking mad …

The Warrior Queen – and this is the truth – was once caught bending over a freezer in Food-o-rama saying; ‘Hello little peas … do I need you?’ She didn’t know I was behind her and heard – and to this day, doesn’t actually believe she did it. But the fun is being taken out of fronting up at grocery stores – and indeed, with enjoying a bit of tele-biffo when trying to get something organised over the phone.

Like me, The WQ isn’t a fan of making phone calls. Not so long ago, she had to contact an insurance company for some information on renewing a policy. They had one of those phone systems whereby you can talk to the handpiece but the handpiece ain’t listening – because they’ve sacked the roomful of happy telephonists they used to employ. Instead, they have a recorded voice to do the business for them. It makes them feel good a bit of money is being saved on all those girlies sitting around dunking digestives in milky tea and applying their nail varnish in between calls. Couldn’t have that, because it might reek of customer service.

Anyway, the WQ’s particular machine told her to press 3 after the beep if she wanted to talk about insurance. Which she did. If she’d wanted to talk about hiring a gigolo she would have phoned BadLads-R-Us. There followed an indeterminable wait, in which awful music was played. The WQ sat back patiently and fondly remembered riding in elevators in the fifties.

After what seemed like forever but was probably only about an hour or two, an electronic voice butted in to thank her for waiting patiently.

‘You’re welcome,’ said the WQ. So they played some advertisements, advertising themselves.  And their fast, competent, personalised telephone service. By the time the voice came back, the WQ was feeling a little peeved.

‘I’m starving,’ she told it. It didn’t seem to care. Instead, she was treated to another series of numbers, from which she was invited to make a choice, depending on the make of car she was interested in attempting to insure. The next time the voice came back, she said, ‘I’ll be a skeleton by the time anyone answers.’ The music at the other end was turned up louder. ‘I need to have something to eat soon,’ the WQ said crossly. ‘If I’m dead, I won’t need the car insured, will I?’

A Barry Manilow song came on. It was the last straw. ‘Sod you, then,’ the WQ said, hanging up and calling it a day for the year.

Which begs the question – how much business is being lost by these companies because the great unwashed won’t deal with machines? You never actually get to find out whether the service is going to be any good or not. There’s never anything human on the other end of the line to tell you.

What price have we paid for our autoteller machines? At least if you walk into a bank, the girl behind the counter doesn’t chew your card up the third time you forget your number. Sure, she might chew gum and you might have a long wait in the queue – but when you finally get there, that girl’s not just another unemployment statistic.

They try to justify unemployment by saying the technological age has spawned a whole new range of jobs. Jobs we hadn’t even heard of 50 years ago. Like being the person who records the electronic voice on answering machines. Or the person who unlocks autotellers and retrieves the sad little pile of chewed up cards left inside (most of them my son’s). And what happens when finally we all turn on our computers to do our grocery shopping electronically? No more fun trips to the mall. No more trolleys with uncoordinated castors. No more waiting in the 8-items-or-die queue behind the thick arser with two months’ supply of goodies for the Australian Army’s next bivouac. You won’t be able to feel the packet to check the biscuits aren’t broken. Or check the use-by date of anything. Or be dragged, screaming, 50 metres across the car park in front of an oncoming bus with your knickers showing when your rogue trolley hits an unexpected speedhump on the way back to your car.

Saddest of all, the WQ will no longer be able to converse with icebound vegetables or assure them of their necessity to her wellbeing and happiness. All the excitement will have gone from life. Those little daily adventures in which we interact with other living things – including moribund broccoli florets – will have been wrested savagely from our sorry lives in the interest of progress.

Was it worth it, we will ask ourselves, as we are reduced to gibbering idiots reaching for the phone to call Lifeline.

‘Dial 1 after the beep,’ it will sonorously intone, ‘if you’re just mildly pissed off. Dial 9 if you’re totally, barking mad …’

.oOo.