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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I'm glad I have a computer. As a matter of fact I can imagine what ever it was I did before I had one, but you know what I mean.

The trouble is I live in fear of someone asking me how many rams I've got.

And another thing about this computer business: why do they put the serial number on the bottom?

Having said all that, I'm very lucky AT MY AGE to have grasped the nettle, or at least the iMac.

When newspaper offices switched to what we called "new technology" it was the 39-year-old something's who were first through the revolving door.

I remember the Editor of one Sunday paper confessing sheepishly that suddenly he had found himself alone in the office one night and decided to have a play.

He turned on the previously unused monitor on his desk (he was still a proper newsman: all braces and no belt), went for a walk around the room, ate a digestive biscuit and promptly knocked a plastic coffee cup over the keyboard with a sweep of his arm.

He described the shrieking noises coming from both the terminal and his own lips as he fled to the sanctity of the office pub.

It was that forty-something journalist's last flirtation with life in the Quark Express fastlane.

Some older reporters found they couldn't tell how much they had written without seeing it all printed out. One hack once wrote a feature about the face of Christ appearing on a tortilla and it was twenty feet long. (The copy, not the Mexican pancake).

Sit-up-and-beg typewriters were great until the ribbon jammed when you had to stand up and throw things. The General Manager at one newspaper office where I worked complained that the cleaners kept finding them in waste bins.

"I'll guarantee they all had their ribbons jammed," the news editor said. A new maintenance company was appointed that day.

Nowadays you get people telling you that you must have a zip drive to back up your system folder, or something.

But life pre-Zips didn't cause your right index finger to start to curl, which is what seems to be happening to mine. Only while I sleep though.

It's repetitive strain injury, my doctor says. I call it curly digit syndrome and it's either that or I'm turning into an eagle.

I'm going to invest in one of those new, sleek, infrared Applemac mice.

Then I'll be able to count my rams in the dark.

Sinclair Newton