So, how do you say it, then?

Monday January 1, 2001

The interesting question starts right now. As in, when speaking of the new year, should we say two thousand and one, or should it be twenty-oh-one as it was in nineteen-oh-one? I’d prefer the latter, though I’m not about to bust a gut trying to justify my reasons. In any case, the choice has probably been pre-empted by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick in the movie 2001 and, listening to people about me, two thousand and one has been adopted and is in place. I’m not going to set myself up as a minority of one and battle for the old form, fighting in the teeth of impossible odds, but it seems appropriate to register my interest today and then let the issue slip quietly away.

So far as I’m concerned, the year 2000 is welcome to slip away quietly, too. Not one of my better years. I’ve great hopes and enthusiasms for 2001 but 2000, nah, they can Ma Kettle it for all I care. Dreary, miserable year, and best forgot.

Christmas was fun. We exchanged pressies over large glasses of Buck’s Fizz at breakfast — a major league computer upgrade for me and a brand new Nikon FM2 camera with three pre-owned lenses for Graham — and then we sank gratefully into the traditional pursuit, as practised by most right-minded people, of flopping in heaps, eating and drinking and watching far too much TV. The only part of the traditional mix we did avoid, as we always do, is sitting about in family groups slagging one another off. Not a cross word was spoken in the house. There seldom are cross words around here, and it’s a blessing for which we give quiet and frequent thanks. Even Harry and Dolly entered into the spirit of things and, having breakfasted on turkey trimmings, slept the whole day through. The weather calmed for Christmas and our Boxing Day stroll was dry.

Then, a couple of days after, my computer got stripped and given its power boost in the form of extra memory and a new hard disk. We’d planned to add an extra IDE channel by means of a swish little plug-in board but my motherboard complained in a sullen silence. So, the next upgrade is already identified — a new motherboard and, possibly, a faster CPU. That can wait, though. For the present, my two-year old box has been given a new lease of life and has recovered all of the speed lost to the Windows ME ‘upgrade’. On that subject, if anyone has taken me as recommending Windows ME, I’d like to retract it. It’s good, it’s fine engineering, and it eats disk space and computer resource like Dolly devours biscuit after a hard morning’s work in the garden. I’d have been better advised to wait for the 2002 version, whatever it may be called.

In the process of transferring stuff from one of the old disk to the new, faster and bigger one I discovered that, once more, MS Outlook has lost my mail archives, this time so thoroughly that I can’t get at them no matter what contortions I go through. Seems there’s an incompatibility between one version and another. So I’ve gone back to good old Ms Eudora who still has the good sense to store my mail files in readable ascii text. I know I’ve lost some mail that had not been answered but I’m sure people will bear with me.

The new disk is a real beaut, filled with 45 luscious gigabytes and spinning considerably faster than the old ones, so my system runs a load faster in its turn. When I read the label — IBM — I was mightily impressed. Last IBM disk drive I bought was a gigantic humming thing that stood in a whole row of identical boxes in sterile, air-conditioned splendour in my big computer hall in Chesterfield. They’d look a little silly now, I suspect. But, IBM! I had visions of engineers in the plant in Poughkeepsie, or in Greenock at least, sweating over my new box. So, from reverence, I donned my reading specs and peered closely at the small print on the label. Manufactured in Hungary, assembled in Romania. Oh dear. “What’s this?” I cried, to be reassured that the ladies on the Romanian assembly line are doubtless issued with clean headscarves when they start their shift. I was placated, in part at least, but when Graham wasn’t looking I installed a couple of cloves of garlic in a dark corner of the computer case, just as a precautionary measure, you understand. Well, I ask you. Hungary and Romania! Sounds all too Transylvanian to me.

And so I arrive at the start of another New Year, all set and raring to go. 2001 is going to be an adventurous time for us here in the old ranch house. I can’t wait.


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