Beam Me Up

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The man boy who came to fix our tv said the reason we couldn’t get as many channels as other people was the little black box under the set. It was, he said, a dinosaur. And so, for that matter, was the tv.

I’d been warming to him as if he was a friend’s grandson. But now, gazing at each other across a generational ocean, the romance was fading.


I told him the tv couldn’t be more than 10 years old, and we’d probably bought the black box at the same time. Nodding gravely, he seemed to have no conception of how 10 Christmases melt into each other. Back in 2006 he was most likely still on soft food.

Fixing the tv was going to cost more than getting a new one, of course. While we were at it, he thought we should upgrade the black box. He recommended a new model that’s “Future Proof”.

The term had an intriguing ring. He said Future Proof meant the new black box wouldn’t go out of date, well not as quickly, as our old one had.

Self-help books are constantly urging me to live in the Present Moment. I try, but living in the Now would far easier if the future was a guaranteed haze of good health, security and laughter.

That afternoon, I walked to Pilates to Future Proof my body. We’re all a bit fragile in the remedial class. Our instructor Chloe takes cheerful interest in our aches and pains.

There’s a grandmother with a bad back, a waitress with sore arms and an engineer with aching legs. Then, of course, there’s my bulging disc (everything’s a bulge these days). I’m starting to like Pilates. It’s a cross between yoga and being strung up in a sadomasochist’s dungeon.

Later on, I grilled salmon for dinner and Future Proofed my brain with a Simple crossword. (Cryptics are impossible). I have no idea why crosswords are supposed to stop the brain turning to mush. Once you’re inside the crossword puzzle maker’s mind, the answers are predictable, and often patronising. (Flightless Australian bird, 3 letters).

Next morning, the repairman returned to install a new television and black box to match. When he’d finished, he called me into the living room and, in kindergarten teacher tones, showed me how to work the new remote. It was time to throw out all our old remotes with their plethora of buttons, he said. His new remote had a laser pointer instead of buttons. It was designed to simplify my life.

As he sauntered back to his van, I couldn’t wait to start watching all the episodes of The Affair Season Two I’d missed. At last, I’d find out if Noah really is a murderer and if the cop is a good or bad guy.

I sank into an armchair and aimed the new remote at the black box. The laser point sailed wildly across the screen. There was a flash, then everything went blank.

The Future wasn’t Proofed, after all.


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