The Curse of the Luddite

“Blasted thing!” I cursed, hurling the shiny remote control across the room. I’d been trying all day to get the new television to work, but I couldn’t even get the remote control to switch it on.

The swanky new television was a birthday gift from my children. The thing was huge, almost as big as the living room window. It had sat in its box for weeks, collecting dust, until my grandson had popped around for a visit yesterday.

In minutes he had all the channels set up, and the monstrosity had worked perfectly. Then, he left to go study for some exams.

Today, I can’t get anything out of the machine. Every time I pressed the on button an O popped up on the tiny screen on the remote control, but the television remained mute and unresponsive.

I might not be gifted electronically, but I’m not that old and feeble that I can’t change a battery, so I tried that. The television remained in limbo. I even dug out a screwdriver and changed the fuse on the telly. Still no joy.

Getting creakily up from my chair, I waddled over to the huge screen and looked for an on/off button to turn the TV on manually, figuring that the remote control was faulty. I searched long and hard, looking at the front, the sides, and finally the back of the thing. I could find no power button.

I even went and fetched my reading glasses, so I could see better.

Giving up, I took a duster to wipe the fingerprints off the shiny new glass front. My grandson had left a few smears around the side of the big screen.

Suddenly, a red light appeared in the bottom right corner of the screen, then the room filled with the sound of chatter and awful music. Somehow, I’d managed to turn on the television. I don’t know how but the room was quickly filled with flickering imagery. I smiled with satisfaction, but my pleasure was short lived.

I found myself cursed to watch unending commercials on a home shopping channel, and to make matters worse, the volume was set at full blast. Even Patch; my aging Jack Russell whined in protest, and he was deaf as a post. Racing for the remote control, I searched in vain for a volume button, but couldn’t find one. I tried pressing different buttons at random to change channels, but the television and remote control were clearly from different planets, possible different solar systems. In the end, I was forced to unplug the set.

Needless to say I was relieved, if a little surprised, when my grandson popped in again the following evening. Usually I’m lucky to get one visitation a month. He was a good boy, but he always seemed to be racing off to somewhere.

“Hi Gran,” he greeted, popping his head in the door. “How’s the new telly working out?”

“Oh, hello Jamie, luv!” I replied. “Don’t even mention that blasted thing. It’ll be the death of me. I think it’s broken. I gave your father a call earlier. I’m getting him to bring it back to Ladl in the morning. I never did trust that place. You buy cheap stuff and you get what you pay for …”

“Don’t worry Gran, I’m sure it’s under warranty. Anyway, it was working fine last night. What’s it doing?”

“I can’t get that blasted thing to work, at all,” I explained, pointing an angry finger at the TV remote control, which was lying on the settee, looking smug. “I even tried to find the On/Off button to turn the television on manually, but it doesn’t have one. Then, all of a sudden the blasted thing turned itself on, but it wouldn’t change channel! I nearly died of fright. Poor Patch hid in the kitchen for over an hour, the wee pet!”

“It’s touch control, Gran,” he explained, moving into the room and heading over toward the couch. He picked up the remote control and then quite suddenly burst out laughing.

“I don’t see what’s so funny,” I protested. “I tell you it’s broken!”

“Gran, I left the remote control in the drawer beside your chair, were you could get at it easily. Don’t you remember me telling you that?”

Now that he mentioned it, I do vaguely remember something about that. “Well, it was sitting on the kitchen table this morning,” I replied. “So clearly you didn’t.” Pulling the tiny drawer open from my night stand, I looked down in surprise at another remote control.

Grinning impishly at me, he explained. “This one isn’t the TV remote, Gran. It’s my science calculator. No wonder you couldn’t get it to work. I was wondering where my calculator had gone. I thought I’d lost it. That’s why I popped back round. I was hoping I’d left it here.”

“My giddy aunt!” I exclaimed, hiding a smile.

“I’ll go and stick the kettle on, shall I Gran?” he suggested. “A cup of tea will calm your nerves. We can watch Emmerdale together.”

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