What I had previously taken to be chaos is actually well ordered, or at least there is enough of all things gadgetty that to lose one set of headphones would not matter, more can be drawn like spaghetti from a drawer. Memory sticks and chargers, other mysterious little black things and cables that join something to something, gadgets and their accompanying gadgets and accompanying cradles to hold the gadget, but a complete and utter absence of pens, in fact stationary as a whole.
I scout round. There is a pen pot but it is a motley of miscellaneous currency. No pen. How has this happened? Was it a gradual attrition, a dodo like dying out? or perhaps a sudden purge, a rage in the aftermath of a leaking biro? The question is though — what if they, me, someone needs a pen?
What would they do if, say, someone had a bee sting so bad their whole throat swelled up and they urgently needed to breathe and the only tube available was the outside of a biro? What if there were no doctors and they needed to put into action all they had learnt from casualty, brace themselves, one, two, three, stab it down into their chest — pause — a moment of tension — a bit longer for good measure — until there’s a great wheeze, lungs inflate, and the biro-wielding life-saver gets lots of pats on the back and probably a little ‘hero’ trophy from the County Council for their quick thinking and a voucher for some more biros.
Or what if you needed to make a temporary splint for a broken finger? Or reset a gadget with one of those tiny holes only a pencil lead will fit in?
Then there are the less obvious questions, like, how do you write a note for someone? A shopping list? A ballot paper? How can we function without the ability to make visible and real the words in our heads?
I am not a technophobe, but I am profoundly wary of anything I cannot see. Radiowaves, sonar, radiation, internet; all these took long enough to accept into my life, but there’s new stuff all the time — the cloud? Where is the cloud? And the drop box, box drop, download, attach, buy anything you want and have it in the post for the next day, when you will sign with a stick on a delivery man’s etch-a-sketch pad that for all I know is ready to shake and dissolve.