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Real life

Double trouble

22 October 2008

12:00 AM

22 October 2008

12:00 AM

With alarming synchronicity, the horse lost a shoe and my computer screen blew up within minutes of each other at the start of my week off.

So, for a gruelling 72 hours, I couldn’t ride and I couldn’t write. I could have dealt with either of these two mishaps singly. But together they formed an axis of enforced inactivity that can only be described as evil. Suffice to say I ended up having a contact-lens check and shopping for fabric coat-hangers on the third day of my deprivation.

On the first day I phoned the farrier and humbly begged him to honour my horse with his presence as soon as was convenient. You have to speak to the farrier that way. He is very grand and important and easily the most sought after individual I have ever come across. His arrival at a stable yard in the little corner of Surrey where I keep my horse prompts a response not unlike that which greets George Clooney as he steps on to the red carpet at Leicester Square. The sight of his little red van driving down a lane can bring desperate women running out into the road after him, waving and screaming. I know, I’ve done it.


The farrier listened patiently to my pleading and said he would be along to see me as soon as he had a minute. Which doesn’t mean much because he probably has about five film premières to attend before he gets round to me.

So with a due sense of dread, I set about solving the computer-screen problem in the meantime. The thing about replacing technology is you know you are not going to get what you want. This is because everything will have got ‘better’ since the last time you shopped for a gadget, even if that was last week.

And so it was when I turned up at PC World looking for a screen that wasn’t wide. I don’t think I was being unreasonable. I mean, it wasn’t as if I was asking for a screen that wasn’t flat. I’m not that ignorant. I’m perfectly prepared to acknowledge that the world is now flat. I just don’t see why it has to be wide as well. I don’t want to see any more of it. I can see more than enough already, thank you very much.

The sales assistant talked me through the options on display with increasing signs of helplessness. ‘What about this one?’ he said, pointing to a 22 inch monstrosity that looked as though it would take up my entire study. ‘Too big, too wide. And I don’t like that blue light on the on/off switch.’

This latter point may sound trivial but anyone who shares my obsessive compulsive problems will know that a big blue light on the side of a device can play havoc with your peace of mind. I’ve got one on my Sky digibox and I had to put black masking tape over it after I nearly hyperventilated watching the darn thing aggressively being blue while I was trying to watch Grey’s Anatomy. I tried to explain this to the sales assistant: ‘The light’s a distraction, I’ll be able to see it in the corner of my eye and before long that’s all I’ll be able to see.’ I don’t think he understood. He showed me every single wide screen they had and I did my best to like them. But in the end I had to tell him the truth. ‘The thing is, I want a square, not a rectangle.’ He looked at me blankly. Possibly I should not have veered into trigonometry, but it seemed the only way to explain. ‘I want a four-sided geometric shape with all sides of equal length. Not a quadrilateral four-sided plane figure whose opposite sides are equal.’

Of course he walked away. As it happened, however, I got lucky with the next assistant I cornered who was a wonderfully insatiable techno-wizard who seemed to find my requirements genuinely interesting. He took me to the back of the store to a special section, for business customers and weirdos, where he searched the entire PC World catalogue for the screen of my dreams. And after a few minutes he found it. It had to be ordered but it’s here now and it’s an absolute beauty. I am looking at it as I type this and it really is so ordinary as to take my breath away. There is only the tiniest little blue dot of a light on the on/off switch. It doesn’t do anything much at all. It doesn’t double as a TV, it doesn’t let me play video games or watch movies. It makes me feel like I’ve singlehandedly stopped a little bit of progress. And I love it.

Melissa Kite is deputy political editor of the Sunday Telegraph.


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