Thursday, 15 October 2009

The sound of silence

The other weekend we were without broadband for the best part of three days. Our ISP had suffered some sort of technical problem that took out most of the postcode district.

By the first night offline we were like lost children.

I moped around the house, occasionally going upstairs to unplug the modem, count to 30 and plug it back in again. I had no idea whether this was meant to do anything, but it helped to pass the time. Katie was suffering from Bejewelled Blitz withdrawal symptoms.

"Don't that lot at VirginMedia realise I have high scores to defend? Bunch of jokers."
"I shall attempt to raise that nice Mr Branson on the telephone forthwith, my sweet..."
"You're taking the piss, aren't you?"

I did spend some time on the phone to the aforementioned VirginMedia, however the bearded one was not to be found. I did get to speak to someone claiming to be called Kevin (despite sounding suspiciously subcontinental) who, after asking me if I'd unplugged and re-plugged, confirmed that yes, indeed, my area of the city was essentially off the grid for the time being.

I sat, perplexed, my fingers missing their trackpad, and thought of all the news passing us by. All the blogs unread, the Facebook updates flitting by un-noted. All those tracks on Spotify I wasn't able to hear. What do you want me to do, VirginMedia, put a CD on? Are we in the Dark Ages or something?

It got serious. I even picked up a book at one point.

And it made me wonder. How soon it is that always-on high-speed internet access has become a utility? It's up there with electricity, water and mains gas. We never notice it, we just expect it to be there when we flick a switch. When did that happen?

I remember our first internet access back in nineteen-hundred-and-frozen-to-death. It was 56k dial-up, and we had to ask the computer to phone up a server somewhere down the road before it would let us join in this exciting new universe. We'd have to try for hours and sometimes if it was busy we wouldn't get on all night. I once spent three hours downloading one six-minute song. It wasn't even very good.

Blimey, I've turned into an old git. I've just re-read that last paragraph. I should by rights have typed it while sitting in a wing-backed armchair with antimacassars. But we take things for granted today. I remember when. We had it tough, y'know.

But you try telling the young people of today that...they won't believe you....


tNb said...

Our recent bout of internet withdrawals took us back to nineteen-hundred-and-frozen-to-death. Sixteen weeks of waiting but we finally have ADSL ... only to discover that the Internet is just as boring as it was before.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to walk 300 miles barefoot, uphill in the snow to the store for milk.

fatboyfat said...

"...the Internet is just as boring as before."

What are you trying to tell me? ;)


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