By Susan Roberts
A few weeks ago I chatted with a man whose mother is now 104 years old and still of sound mind. What wonders she must have seen in her lifetime! I can only claim to half-know what she feels like when faced with the modern world. Frequently I find myself being referred to as “the oldest one” when in the company of my workmates. I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, I am the only person in my department who has reached fifty, but with age is supposed to come respect and the reverence with which young people view their elders …
Hah – dream on! It’s bad enough that my body now struggles to do the things it used to do so easily a few years ago, but to be mocked by those younger than me is a bit harsh. I mean, isn’t one’s skin supposed to thicken with age? Or have I gone beyond that and started the downward slide to disintegration, like the Egyptian mummies of old when unwrapped? Hmmm, moving on …
Perhaps worse than physical ageing is the galloping pace of technology. Who knew that things would turn out like this? I remember how impressed I was when fax machines were invented. The idea that you could send a photocopy of the piece of paper in your hand to someone in another city via a telephone line? Wow, that was cool, huh?
Do you remember those few special – and very rich! – individuals who had the first cell phones? Oh how I envied my boss with his trademark sagging hip on one side. Green with jealousy I watched as he detached the ringing brick from his belt, pulled out the aerial and said hello – usually very loudly and several times – to someone who wasn’t even connected to him via a real phone line. Only for a few minutes though – it took about eight hours to charge the battery for a talk time of less than ten minutes. But what an impressive ten minutes that was. Not for him the frustration of searching for a call-box that hadn’t been vandalised.
Now all the mobile phones are tiny. My old eyes can no longer read the increasingly small font, and I find myself yearning for the days of the brick. A similarly-aged friend recently got her first Blackberry. Unfortunately her arms are not long enough for her to hold it at the right distance to be able to read the messages she gets, never mind type a reply on that dwarf keyboard.
Reading brings to mind a much more user-friendly invention. I have been an avid reader from as far back as I can remember. As a child I never went anywhere without a book, and as an adult I managed to collect an awful lot of books before I ran out of space in my miniscule cottage. Of course I can no longer read most of them because the print has shrunk since I first bought them. Yes, the print shrinks every year, but the books themselves still occupy the same space. I wonder why that happens.
Anyway, I digress. Despite being old and getting everything too late, some kind soul invented the Kindle – just for me, I am convinced.
What a pleasure to be able to adjust the font size of my Kindle to suit my eyes! And in addition to the convenience of carrying my current book around with me, I have instant access to the bookshop in the clouds if I finish reading it and need to buy another. In fact, I love my Kindle so much that I seem to be getting nothing else done at the moment apart from reading. The book I was supposed to finish writing by the end of May is still languishing somewhere in my hard drive. I think it was the late Douglas Adams who made that marvellous comment about loving deadlines, especially the whooshing sound they make as they rush by.
While my deadlines rush, I clock up ever more reads on my Kindle. Nothing fires up my imagination like a good read. And perhaps this is why some of us take our first steps along the writing path. With one novel already for sale as an e-book on Kindle, the feeling has seriously infected me, and to that end I actually managed to meet an important deadline last week. My novella, From Daisy with Love, which I started as a writing project in 2009 and self-published in June 2010, has now been successfully uploaded into the Amazon Kindle Store. You can click on the link in the right hand column to look at it if you like.
Whatever books you choose to read, I hope they give you the pleasure you deserve, inspire your mind and take you on wonderful journeys. Enjoy the ride!