So, Christmas has come and gone – all jolly good fun and filled with family but it seems to put the rest of life on hold for at least a month. If, heaven help you, a plumber or electrician is required, it will always have to be in the New Year. Thank goodness for our computers and online shopping. Amazon never sleeps and sometimes things seem to arrive almost before you’ve ordered them. The disconcerting thing is the ads that pop up all the time. I believe they are created by Algorithms.
Algorithms are very clever things – I’m not quite sure I really understand them, but I think it is something to do with Big Brother learning all about us. So, I imagine there is an algorithm that tells the big computer in the sky – The Cloud? – that I am an elderly widow. Thus, ads pop up all over the place, suggesting that I pre-pay for my funeral. (I have no intention of doing that – I’ll be dead, I don’t care what happens. Obviously, I’d like to imagine my family prostrate with grief when I die and a church full of people sobbing their hearts out followed by a magnificent wake with champagne flowing like water as a large congregation vie with each other to tell witty anecdotes about me. However, as I’m not going to be there it doesn’t really matter. I will leave it to them to choose whether to use some of their inheritance on a fancy funeral or a trip to Mauritius – I think I know what I’d choose. I’d like to think that my nearest and dearest would give me a reasonable send off and if I died next week quite a few people would probably want to come – if only to make sure that I was really dead – but if I hang on until I’m 90 then it will probably be a tiny affair with a handful of my contemporaries who are mobile enough and not completely gaga so that shouldn’t cost much – not more than a cup of tea in the village hall for five centenarians!)
But back to the Algorithms – there are Zimmer frames and mobility scooters – I’ve just paid for my skiing trip so I ‘m rather hoping I won’t need either of those for a while – however a good fall on the slopes might mean I’m in the market for both. Sometimes in the morning if I’m feeling particularly stiff a walk-in bath does sound like a good option as I heave myself out of the water. However, I feel that if might be the thin end of the wedge and that losing some weight would be a far better plan. Also I’m not quite sure how they work – do you have to get in, sit down, close the side and then sit there getting cold while the bath fills up and then the reverse when you have finished. I have to confess I haven’t researched this very thoroughly – I’m sure there will time for that in the years to come. Talking of heaving myself out of the water I get constant pop up ads and emails about wonder diets/wonder pills to help me lose weight. How do they know? Do they check the size of the clothes I order online? I quite like imagining that instead of some out of this world machine there are some algorithm elves, possibly those that have been let go from Santa’s workshop, who sit up in the Cloud making decisions about us all. When they are feeling mischievous they might send information on a particularly depressing looking retirement home or perhaps worse they could put up some pretty clothes which turn out to be available only up to size 12. Incontinence pads whilst undoubtedly very useful in their place would hardly be cheery things to pour over in that post Christmas gloom. Certainly if there is any chance that your grandchildren might want to use your computer you need to check it thoroughly first unless you want them asking you if you can take your teeth out or are you using that special new Dentofix.
Big Brother does seem to have a slightly better idea about us all now – at least something has worked out that not only can I not sustain an erection but without extensive, expensive and probably very painful surgery I’m not able to have an erection at all. I wonder if I suddenly started ordering motorcycle helmets or scuba diving equipment would they change their minds about me and start putting in pop up ads for tattoo parlours or leather jackets.
I am not sure if it an algorithm that corrects my spelling or grammar. Texting is a minefield as any slang or family word can be altered beyond all recognition and make texts unreadable and then for some reason a text will send itself in the middle of a word. Part of the problem is that I don’t have tiny elf fingers. I watch the grandchildren texting with their thumbs at lightning speed. My thumbs sure far too big and arthritic. I can, on the other hand, touch type at a pretty good speed, although spell check hasn’t helped that. My very first job, back in the dark ages, was typing contracts In a solicitor’s office on a manual typewriter using carbon paper – if you don’t know what that is you can Google it! There was no such thing as Tippex (you may have to Google that too) and any mistake had to be carefully scraped off the page with a razor blade – thinking about it I have no idea why more of us didn’t use them to slit our wrists. It did however make us very accurate typists, a skill that took ages to learn and has now been surpassed by five year old children who are able to text long screeds in a matter of moments. Shirley Conran famously said that Life was too short to Stuff a Mushroom now it seems that Life is too short to learn to Touch Type while in this new age of Vegetarian Rules it is about to be compulsory to Stuff a Mushroom.