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Only a birdbrain would deny the internet has made communication with most far-flung corners of the world much easier. And only an even bigger birdbrain would refute the same internet often leads to total communications breakdown in the home. You try telling a hyperactive, teenage delinquent, pumped up on adrenaline, to stop playing Innocent Pedestrian Roadkill Rage, come downstairs, and eat his tea. See what happens. Parents have ended up being scraped off kitchen walls for less.
Hold up a minute, I’ve just had a thought. Surely, a bird with a bigger brain would be more intelligent. Wouldn’t it? There again, is an ostrich cleverer than a sparrow? They must have bigger brains. But you don’t get sparrows burying their heads in the sand, do you? I mean, you don’t, do you? It’s not just that I haven’t seen any sparrows doing it, is it? And is a vulture more intelligent than a parrot? Well, is it? I’m asking. It´s bigger with a bigger bonce. Ergo, bigger bird bonce, bigger bird brain. Yet nobody in their right mind would think of trying to teach a vulture to talk, would they? They’re big birds. Imagine all the carrion you’d have to cart into the house. And cleaning out the vulture cage doesn’t bear thinking about. They probably dribble. There again, if you think about it long enough, that could be the reason they can’t. Can’t talk, I mean. Not the dribbling. Nobody ever tried to teach one, that’s why. Vultures everywhere could be dying to have a chat and we’ll never know about it. But I divert.
To get back on track. I’ve been trying to adjust myself to this Skype thing. I know it’s been round for some time but it’s new to me. The thought of Anji and me settling down in front of, what my old mum thought of as the newfangled, telly-typewriter thingamjig, for a good old Skyping, is a bit daunting. On par with a middle-class, Victorian family posing for a studio photo wearing expressions like Santa Claus had just been discovered rotting in their chimmney. I’m plagued by the notion I should don my Sunday best for the occasion, and have my hair done, even though I have almost no hair to do. So when Wendy and the Big L – Larry Biggs, aka Biggles – from Mildura suggested we all get into a Skype session, I felt a bit like we’d been invited to a wife-swapping party. Not that I’d wear my Sunday best at a wife-swapping party. Not that I’d go to one even if I was invited.
Apparently, even though it’s on the other bloody side of the world, Skyping to Mildura is as easy as falling off a wall. Even a kid can do it. Mind you, falling off a wall on purpose ain’t so easy. Try it. When I was a kid we just had phones. And letters, of course. Ah, letters, all that licking envelopes and stamps, no wonder we all had such dry tongues back then. People had to book telephone calls to foreign places in advance in the olden days. Especially at Christmas. When you finally did get through it was like talking to a deaf person, stranded in a large, cardboard box on the moon. They always seemed to want to talk at the same time as you. Well, maybe Skyping is easy for kids, but people like me have to think about these things. There are questions to be answered. What would be the best hour to do it?
Let me explain: when it’s midday in Andalucia, it’s midnight in Australia. When it’s light here, it’s dark there. When it’s Tuesday in Spain, it’s Wednesday in Mildura, when it’s autumn, it’s spring. Thinking about it further, we have nothing in common to chat about with people living in Mildura. Everything’s so the other way round. They tell me even the water goes down the plug hole the other way round. I wonder who first worked that one out. Must’ve spent a lot of time in the bath. These things don’t matter when writing a letter. Not which way the water goes down the plug hole, that doesn’t matter even when you’re not writing a letter. Mind you, writing a letter in the bath isn’t a good idea. Not when it’s full of water, it isn’t.
The more I think about it, the more I’m going off this Skyping thing. When they’re sober, we’re drunk. When we’re tired, and ready for bed, they’re getting up fresh as daisies. When we’re going to work, they’re coming back. When we’re eating breakfast, they’re sitting down to dinner. When we’re on morning tea break, they’re rolling back from the pub. Somehow, it doesn’t seem natural.
We could arrange for a Skyping over the weekend, I suppose. But then weekends are islands where time is too precious not to waste doing nothing at all.
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