Sunday, 20 March 2016

A sorry Kindle story. And a joke to sharpen the irony

There are times when going on holiday isn’t a luxury, but a vital necessity.

Getting back to work, after an involuntary nearly eight-month break last year, is a bit of a shock to the system. Especially as it involves commuting into London, a joy I’d been deprived of for the previous four years. Especially as that involves frequent 5:15 a.m. starts to the day.

The worst effect of tiredness, I find, is to undermine judgement. I make mistakes, try to fix them and end up compounding them with worse errors still.

The other day I left for work a little later than I usually do. The trouble is that while it’s a luxury to be a little more leisurely about getting ready to go, and the dog gets a slightly longer walk, there’s a price to pay which rather kills the pleasure: I don’t get a seat on the later trains.

That was my first misjudgement.

I’m an enthusiastic convert to the Kindle. Never, since I’ve had a Kindle, have I had a suitcase that’s overweight for air travel. And yet now I travel with dozens, potentially hundreds, of books where in the past I would take just a handful – but that would be enough to tip the scales into eye-watering excess baggage charges.

Great device, great book. A source of pride and joy
And just now a little embarrassment
The Kindle has become my newspaper too. So I was reading the Guardian on the way into work until the sheer discomfort of trying to keep my balance in a crowded aisle became unbearable, and I put my Kindle down on a table in front of me.

That was my second misjudgement.

Because when more people joined the train, I had to move further down the aisle and away from my Kindle. Out of sight, out of mind. A porous mind, at least. As a result, I left the train without the Kindle and didn’t even notice until I decided to read a little more of The Big Short at lunchtime. 

You don’t know The Big Short? It’s a must read. Watch this space for more about this brilliant insight into the sheer stupidity of the people who make the most money, but only for themselves, and lose the most money for the rest of us.

But, of course, I couldn’t read The Big Short that lunchtime. I’d lost my Kindle. Oh, the despair!

The depression over my stupidity was immense. Made worse by the tiredness. I felt driven to do something immediately, to try to remedy the loss. So I bit the bullet and ordered another one. It was a bitter bullet (a bit of a bitter bullet bitten?) as Amazon no longer had a special offer on and I had to pay full price.

That was my third misjudgement, the final error that compounded the others. Because the inevitable happened. The train company got in touch. Instead of being stolen, my Kindle had fallen into the hands of someone honest enough to hand it in, and I could go and collect it. Just, as it happens, as I received the new one.

So I now own two Kindles. Both capable of holding a regular library of books, far more than I could ever read or wish to read. An endless supply, for all practical purposes, which I can never exhaust. And each identical to the other.

That made me think. Firstly, that it was definitely time for a holiday, to get grounded again and have my judgement functioning once more. And secondly of an old Irish joke I’ve always enjoyed.

Seamus is offered three wishes by his fairy godmother. For the first, he asks for a bottle of Guinness that never runs out. She flicks her wand and there, in front of him, is the bottle. He pours out a glass and drinks it, and the bottle is full again.

“Why, that’s magical," he says.

“And what about your other two wishes?” she asks.

“Well, I liked that one so much, I think I’ll have two more of the same.”

At least I now know what it feels like to be Seamus.

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