Pedal backwards, just to make sure....
By Julia Moore
A few weeks ago, I accidentally smashed my old mobile phone. We had been through a lot together - world travel, weddings, funerals,etc. In the few weeks it took me to acquire another one, I had to change almost every PIN number, password and DNA sequence with which I had, ever, been associated. It was a miserable few administrative days. In world terms, not important at all, but, as a wake-up call to the big ‘switch off’, it was useful.
My working theory is that someone, somewhere in Arizona, silicon-valley, has control over a big switch. One day s/he will assume world power and hold us all to ransom - James Bond-like, and will ask us to hand over all our worldly goods - money, PIN numbers, passwords, especially to the family fun-days at the local swimming baths (perhaps not that one), and any pennies in our penny-jar. I once posed this as an idea whilst working as a lecturer at a London University. I animated the proposal - for the small audience who were kind enough to give a damn about my ramblings. In a fluke, which could not have been more accurately timed if rehearsed, at the point when I acted out the throwing of the ‘big switch’, our building suffered a power ‘outage’ ( we used to call them power-cuts, in days of yore, but this was a US-owned enterprise, say no more). For 30 seconds, I was blamed for the power-’downing’, but I pointed out, strenuously, that my ‘switch’ didn’t actually exist, I was acting? Then I was revered (for about 5 minutes), as some sort of witch-queen, and folk begged me to ‘turn the bloody lights back on, you idiot, my computer’s dead’. Thankfully, the arrival of burly and authoritative fire-service personnel (some of them men) supported my story, and that I was not responsible for the power-going-ness, as we were ‘encouraged’’ (chased, rudely) out of the building.
The point of above is about backup and contingency. I had always intended to spend a rainy weekend writing down ALL my secret PIN numbers,etc, rendering them un-secret.. But, having a life which I enjoy, I have never had that much ‘down-time’ (or, ‘spare-time’ as we used to say, ‘boredom’, even). Of course, lessons learned. A cloud-computing expert recently stated that he refuses to engage in internet banking, due to its risk, AND has constantly warned me (why me, in particular, I know not), to keep vital information in 3 separate places! Yoicks? (New York, Tuscany and Inverness would be my choices).
Recently our village was in the grip of a civil happening. The village water main burst during the night and the Mairie, water distribution plan swung into action. My partner revels in the frequent criticism of the amount of bottled water I keep in the cellar. I have a chronic kidney condition which implores the daily intake of good, clean water. Yet, I am vilified for my healthy diligence and so I ignore him, as with so many other aspects of our successful lives together. Ha ha! Who is laughing now??? I ask the rhetorical question??????? - Well, only me, as my partner is was the UK at the time, unaffected by the crisis. However, much like a well-known US country singer, who stashed fuel whilst others suffered without, I can drink as much fizzy water as I please (for a few days, anyway) - not that he drank his fuel, but you have the idea.
As for pedalling backwards???? My dear old bicycle is in dire need of an overhaul - at the moment, I have no forward brakes. In days gone by, we used to pedal backwards to brake - what a shameful passing of this effective and simple piece of technology, the young have no idea...etc...etc...And another thing….although frustrating for passengers (I was waving goodbye to pals, so unaffected by this personally), a recent ‘downage’ of check-in technology at Nice airport meant a reversion to medieval tactics of processing people (yes, air travel did not exist in such times, but bear with….). The few (two) check-in staff who were sent out, like gladiators to the lions, to grapple with 100s of seething travellers merely shouted out the next flight to be handled, requiring folk to queue-jump. We know that queue-jumping is fatal in some countries (England, especially), whilst other nations hold it dear as a national sport (Italy), but I found the yelling and shouting rather comforting. This backup ‘system’ was, after all, a solution to the problem. It provided an unfolding spectacle of space-age technology meeting prehistoric man (the women were pretty ancient, too). Mind you, if I’d been checking in and affected by the malaise, I would have joined in the shouting and taken others down with me.
So, the moral of this story is...always have a plan B, even if it involves shouting and carrying string at all times. It could save lives.