Never mind the Romans, what have computer manufacturers ever done for us? That was my response when asked if I’d give an account of my relationship with my laptop. I looked (and felt) quizzical. I could, I suppose, but it would have to be a short article because I only use my laptop for writing. Well, and as a digital archive of every word I have ever written and all the half-decent digital photos I’ve taken in the last five years.
Of course, I have to book my travel, which these days is almost invariably done online. Once hooked up by my Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi connection to the Web, I can book a trip in a few clicks. Oh and communicate instantly with the office, my family and a few billion fellow humans around the planet. Hotmail is free, yet at the same time it’s priceless.
Skype – my preferred calling system – reduces the cost of an international phone call to zero or thereabouts. The wide band facility of Skype (and, presumably, my laptop) means I can broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 from locations all around the world, in a quality far superior to a phone link and only slightly inferior to a satellite connection. My laptop also allows me to supply high-quality audio for The Independent’s podcasts.
I have taken my chances with my laptop, which I like to think has been up more mountains than most. I have just returned from Mount Kenya, where it performed brilliantly in a frozen hut at the equivalent height of the summit of the Matterhorn. The best batteries in the world do not last long at such low temperatures, so I was obliged to keep them all (I always carry spares) in my sleeping bag overnight in order to maximise my writing time the next morning! The other climbers in the hut thought it a little eccentric, but my colleagues on The Independent regarded my filing a column for the travel section as essential.
I have learned to love my laptop more than in the early days, when I was prone to leaving it at airports. In transit at Sofia, I left it on the desk at passport control and at Amsterdam Schiphol, I left it by the baggage reclaim and went into the city centre. On both occasions, I found it sitting exactly where I had left it, a touch resentful but none the worse for its ordeal.
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