It’s time to take down the Christmas decorations, a job which always seems to take no time at all, shuffling the festivities out of the door as quickly as possible, their obsolescence unquestioned and fitting.
My phone constantly has a notification popping up which tells me I have “insufficient storage space”, and I wonder how it knows what I intend to be stored on it in order to make such a bold claim.
I delete a number of apps I haven’t used in months, voice memos of songs I’ll never write which don’t sound half as good as they did when I had the spark of an idea. I delete photos I’ve taken with complete abandon safe in the knowledge that they are backed up in at least two places and that there is no need for the circumspection I needed when I was a kid, and every click would be painstakingly processed at the chemist while I waited for the prints to arrive back in my hands.
I delete emails and podcasts, but it still tells me I have “insufficient storage”.
“That’s planned obsolescence for you,” my son says in response to my background cursing.
“You think they constantly tell me I haven’t any space so that I’ll buy a new phone?” I ask.
“Probably, you’ve had it for over three years.”
“Three years! My mother used a twin tub to do her washing for over forty years, the same bloody twin tub!”
“I don’t know what a twin tub is,” says my son throwing a huge bag of clothes just sorted from his wardrobe onto the front path ready for recycling.
“I might have a look through those clothes before you get rid of them,” I say.
My son smiles at me as he leaves the room.
Making myself a cup of tea I notice the increasingly large puddle of water under the expensive kettle that is less than five years old. When I rang the customer service department they said they could repair it, and I asked how much it would cost. They said they didn’t know until they saw it.
On a Google search for reviews of my kettle, I read a number of complaints about leaks and a consistent piece of advice from other members, “Just buy a new one.”
My phone pings with a message and it’s my daughter telling me that her iPad has stopped working.
“I left it on my bed when I went out last night and today the screen won’t come on,” she says.
“Bring it down and I’ll have a look at it,” I tell her.
After an hour or so tinkering about I manage to get it working and feel pretty pleased with myself. She seems underwhelmed.
A few hours later she tells me gleefully that it has stopped working again and that she doesn’t want me to try and fix it because she’s arranged to take it into the Apple store to exchange it for a new one.
“I’ve only had it three months, so it shouldn’t be going wrong,” she says, not unreasonably.
I wait for the inevitable request that I go with her to handle any awkward confrontation, but it doesn’t come.
“Do you want me to come with you?” I ask
“Why would I need you to come with me? I’m only taking an iPad back,” she replies.
Later, I text my son to ask him when he and his girlfriend are going back to Brighton, but he doesn’t answer.
Then, I text my daughter and tell her it’s time for dinner, but she writes back telling me that her nails are taking longer than she’d anticipated and “Can you start without me?”
I decide to take the Christmas decorations off the tree and pack them neatly, carefully winding the lights so that they work straight from the box next year. I open the French doors and move the tree outside, still in its base, softening the blow.
I think about my mother who rarely took down the Christmas decorations much before the beginning of spring. She’d say something like, “The vicar is coming for dinner at the start of February, I think we’ll leave them up until then.” As if the vicar wouldn’t be sicker than most of Christmas. But it didn’t matter to my mother because she was never obsolete.