City Life and Technological Challenges

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Photo credit David Griffiths

It has been as stupidly busy as ever over the past week. As the Braund nine day reunion drew to a close, I played truant in order to attend the British Association for Local History conference in London. This involved leaving home at 6.00am and getting the last train home, arriving back at 10.45pm. We know how to live in the country – our last trains aren’t exactly late. I had decided to stay up past my bedtime in order to collect my certificate as an author of one of the short-listed ‘best long articles’ that appeared in last year’s British Association for Local History digests. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time. Apart from a serious case of exhaustion, my friends and family, who were aware I was in the big city, panicked somewhat when the appalling news of the London Bridge incident broke but fortunately I was away from London long before the trouble started and I was in a different area. The worst I encountered was a stag party on the Exeter-Barnstaple train home. The driver did threaten to stop the train, which caused some consternation but fortunately she decided to carry on despite raucous shouting and copious amounts of alcohol being consumed.

Then Tuesday’s technological challenge. I closed the lid of my laptop and opened it up again to find zilch, nothing, a blank screen that no amount of ‘gentle persuasion’ a.k.a anguished key banging could rectify. Now we all know that there is never a good time for a laptop to decide that it will cease to be but with the job we much not mention, that is wholly dependent on computer use, looming, this really was not a good time. Quite apart from the job itself, everything else that needed doing before the middle of July needed to be done this week. I drove to the computer shop and threw myself on the mercy of the chap behind the counter. He hummed and haaaed and said it would all depend when he could get a part. I returned home and a fisherman of my acquaintance, who clearly could not tolerate the prospect of associating with someone who was lacking a computer for an unspecified period, came to my rescue. He is well aware that I start to twitch on the rare occasions when I am surgically removed from my laptop. He kindly decided to bring forward his own planned purchase of a new laptop so that I could borrow it whilst mine was being repaired. Back to the computer shop. They were trying to araldite some unidentified parts of my laptop together. In the end that proved unsuccessful and my laptop is currently on its way back to the manufacturers in Germany while I struggle with a new operating system and different software on the borrowed machine. I am very grateful that a) I had recently backed up the old laptop and b) that I have another machine to use. I am sure computer shops should offer courtesy computers in the same way that garages offer courtesy cars.

I am now in the throes of said job we must not mention. It necessitates more sojourns in the smoke – two trips to Manchester. I’ve said it before, I really am not fit to be let out. First, that moment when you turn up at a motel to be told you aren’t booked in. You insist you are. You are correct but that is next week’s trip and this week you are booked in to a different motel in the same chain. Then day one and I am working in a hotel that is in the centre of a protest march by a neo-Nazi group. I think the entire Manchester police force must have been in the street outside. There was shouting, there were police helicopters circling and I did wonder how I was going to get back to the motel. Fortunately, by the time we had finished, the protesters had dispersed, although the police were still very much in evidence.

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