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If all this technology is progress, just call me Betamax Man!'.

MANY years ago my wife gave birth to a son. I can't tell you what a joy it was, the knowledge that in three years' time I would have someone in the house who could programme the VCR.

For years the wretched thing had stood in the corner of the lounge doing nothing else but blink. I had spent PS300 on a digital clock that was right only twice a day - at 00:00hr.

To say I'm a technophobe would be flattery. I know less about bytes and gigathings than I do about badger breeding.

The whole digital, wi-fi electronic age passes me by in a whirlwind of bemusement and ignorance. I have never used Twitter, Facebook or any other network communication scam, and I probably never will.

I do have a mobile, mainly for show, and I do happen to own something that my daughter bought me. I know not what it's called, but it has over two thousand tunes recorded on it that she kindly downloaded for me.

I can play one. That gadget sits by the VCR, blinking and beeping, demanding to be used. I just ignore them and play my 33 1/3 rpm vinyl record of Duane Eddy on my Dansette.

(For anyone under the age of 40, ask your granddad what that is!) Technical appliances do not like me. They get together when I'm out and plot devious schemes to humiliate me.

I have a fax machine that won't text. I called the engineer to complain about it and he advised me to laser a scart plug onto a mimic panel log and place the whole device into a spare orifice.

I think he may have been attempting sarcasm, but I'm just guessing.

My first mobile phone was basic but cheap. It did not receive texts, as I kept telling my wife.

She sent me a text while I was in the room to see what was going on. Sure enough, nothing came up on the phone. In triumph I did a little strut round the kitchen. Oh, to be proved right!

Messages Puzzled, she did a rudimentary check on the menu to find that not only did the phone receive texts, but the reason it wouldn't accept them was that the memory was full with more than 300 messages.

I slipped quickly off to the shed to play the tennis game on my old Game Boy.

In years gone by I was always buying the latest audio or video system just before the latest updated, super-dooper version came onto the market.

My friends called me Betamax Man - whatever I decided to buy, they knew it would be obsolete by the end of the month.

My attic is full of Video Discs, 8-track cartridges and there's even a Sinclair C5 somewhere in there.

There is one advantage for me now, mind. I can go to a car boot sale and pick up for virtually nothing video tapes of films and TV programmes by the ton, so when my son comes to visit I can watch them to my heart's content until he leaves.

"Surely you have a computer?" I hear you cry. Well yes, but it's not that easy when you're scared of it.

I keep getting screen warnings that squawk "You have just committed an illegal operation".

All I did was to type BCFC into Google.

I do have an e-mail that I'm just getting the hang of, but what constitutes a spam, a phish, a virus or a message from 'Kiss my whip Kate' - a student in Chechnya - I have yet to find out.

I am petrified just to open a mail. Warnings are rife about opening anything in case you're a victim of a computing genius whose sole purpose in life is to destroy your computer by infecting it with a deadly bug that gives it whooping cough.

The times I have to call in the Geeks who mend computers...

They come from companies called CompDoc or Anorak Central Services - nerdy boffins who can bore you from 300 yards.

Their opening gambit is "Who's been messing with this, then?" Sheepishly, you admit to turning it on and trying to Skype someone in Acocks Green. There follows an hour of geekspeak that means nothing to you but a small fortune to them.

And don't get me started on ebay. I bought a set of golf clubs once. When I'd won I realised it was 'collection only' and I had to troop down to Penzance to get them.

I have made so many mistakes trying to buy stuff on ebay my rating is double zero with a warning.

Besides which, browsing through the autograph section out of curiosity one time, I saw a signed photo of myself for sale.

The starting price was 99p; there were three minutes to go and no bids!

So I bought it for PS10. Pride is a funny thing - and when it arrived, it was counterfeit.

I fear for the future, I really do. Kids are mesmerised by the glowing, flickering screen. It seems they are constantly trying to wave away a smell from their app-pod or whatever; conversations now take place courtesy of the forefinger.

And if they ever find themselves in an area without a wi-fi signal, parents just hope there's someone around who can perform the Heimlich manoeuvre.

Computer There is going to come a time when, unless you are computer literate, you won't be able to function. Everything will be done on the net.

There will be no shops - the country will be just a giant Tesco warehouse, with millions of lorries trolling all over the roadways delivering online orders. No-one will be able to go out in case they miss the delivery men who will call ten times a day; post of-fices will go into the memory bank along with The Home Service, Spangles and your Co-op number.

And, horror of horrors, if there is a prolonged electricity cut, the country will come to a standstill and we will end up scoffing each other to survive.

I think it's called progress.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 10, 2013
Words:1018
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