People say that elderly people and technology don’t mix, but I was born in a St Ouen barn in the 1920s and I’ve been in love with technology since the parish installed its first electric lightbulb in 1953. I’ve owned a wireless, a fax machine and a ZX Spectrum over the years, and now I’ve got a telephone that fits in my pocket and there’s a robot on Mars sending me pictures through the internet.
If you’re anything like my children you’re probably surprised that somebody old enough to remember Queen Victoria even knows the number to dial the internet, but my PC computer has a turbo button and I’m on the broadest band JT can fit in this cottage. I hope somebody tells my doctor that the robot on Mars is a real thing who will send pictures to anybody, so there was no need to hold me down and give me that special injection of brain medicine.
Now, websites may be designed for the younger generation, but like all true Jerseymen I like to keep a close watch on the pennies, so as soon as cousin Barry told me there were loads of free things online I signed up for internet explorer as soon as I could work
out where to plug in the wires. I watch the cricket for free, chat to other pigeon fanciers for free and play free games that involve farming carrots. Sometimes when the wife is asleep I look at free pictures of half-undressed ladies, and it’s this that brings me to the subject of this article. Internet users should beware, because not everything that promises to be free is quite as it seems. There are literally hundreds of websites out there, maybe more, and despite nice pictures and a professional look some of these are out to fleece you – take my word for it. If you want to avoid giving control of your savings account to a busty Ukrainian woman called Olga, think twice, put the pension book away and don’t get caught in the sticky bits of the world wide web.
So-called “free to play” computer games
Computer games aren’t just for lonely men in their 20s who like shouting about your mother – they are also for men in their 80s who remember when you could smoke in Funland and there was nothing odd about an off-duty farmer with a full beard playing Double Dragon at the Fort Regent swimming pool. As I told them at the time, I didn’t want to waste time getting changed and a damp pair of Speedos helps me concentrate – that’s the story I’m sticking to. Unlike Pong or Space Invaders, I find the violence in today’s games too realistic, so I gave in to the wife’s nagging, left my Call of Duty clan and signed up for a free game called GemVille Fruity Saga. At first it was a lot of fun, but one night after bowls I had seven cups of tea and just couldn’t stop myself – it was like being on the drugs. I was at the point where I needed to flick another 2000 cosmic beans to get a rainbow gem, cracked and signed into my PayPal account to pay for a few beans to get flicked on my behalf by a sweatshop in Hong Kong. Within a couple of days I was a Level 500 Emerald Master, but I stopped telling the lads at the pub when I realised they weren’t impressed by that, and that I’d given the triads half of the money for my hip replacement. Never again!
So-called “free introduction to hot singles”
Now, I’m happily married, but an anonymous individual I’ll codename “Cousin Harry” has been very lonely since his wife left him for her bridge partner. We thought we were signing him up to a service to meet nice local ladies who like listening to the Archers and caravan holidays, but it turns out the only women who signed up for the same website were young lasses from a part of Europe where communism doesn’t allow them to afford many clothes. Lots of them were surprisingly keen to fly over here to marry a retired farmer with one leg, and one girl even sent Barry a video of herself apparently doing yoga, to demonstrate that she’d be fit enough to lower him into the bath. I’m not sure it was necessary for her to do it in the nuddy, but I suppose they have a different culture over there. I was having second thoughts by the time the third marriage proposal arrived, but luckily before Barry could get out the credit card he had a funny turn and needed to have a nice lie down.
So-called “free music, films and software”
I wasted an entire afternoon trying to get Apple’s Macintosh shop to knock the GST off a Bing Crosby album, and eventually lost my patience and signed up for a rival service called Pirate eBay. I thought it was fantastic, as they didn’t start asking for any money until I’d got myself 30 episodes of Last of The Summer Wine and a spanking new version of Windows XP. Of course, there’s always a catch, and sooner or later muggins here took his eye off the ball and signed up to pay for a faster download of the first series of The Good Life, with something called Bitcoin. It didn’t even involve money at first, but they did ask me to double a few of my prescriptions and stick them in the post to an address in Syria. It turns out these got lost in the mail, and somehow ended up at the British embassy in Nigeria. As luck would have it, a lovely gent called Moses Trustworthy has agreed to return the parcel, on the condition I send him a photocopy of a bank statement with my address on it.
So-called “free trial” of medicines
With all of the miracles of science, there’s a danger that us older chaps will end up a bit carried away and fall for medical treatments that aren’t quite as effective as their many written testimonials make out. Yes, they may be offered by the “NUMBR
1 PhArmacy in CanADA” but that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to be safe, or even that they’ve been tested on rabbits. If they had, it’s likely that the Canadian pharmacy would have noticed a rabbit who was still struggling to “put up the Christmas tree”, but who went six days without sleep and only stopped dancing outside St Peter’s Bars when the vet was called out and zapped him with a cattle prod. I may have discovered a new appreciation for techno music from Holland, but I blew out my pacemaker and the only new hair growth has been on the soles of my feet. My new rule of thumb – if you can’t buy it in Boots, don’t order it from the internet and let your cousin inject it into your bottom with an icing pump.
It’s Horace@localdial.com, and the password to friend me is ‘p4ssword’.