Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

Badly behaved technology? I recommend an axe
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The Independent Online

You know what it's like when your child is possessed by the devil and is saying terrible things about your mother and there's green stuff all over the house? You send for the exorcist. He interrupts his busy schedule to come round - but when he arrives, the child appears in its Sunday suit with its hair neatly brushed? It makes you angry. You look around casually, wondering where you left the axe?

It happens all the time with my technology. The computers, their programmes, mobile phones and the internet - when they go wrong they reduce me to sobbing chaos. Then the man comes round from Computer Assistance and everything is as sweet as pie; no shaking beds, no vomit. It creates dark thoughts. Yes, there's not much that can't be settled round here with a three-foot timber axe.

This morning, I had Stephen Fry in a London studio waiting for his script additions to be emailed in. Stephen Fry, right? You thought this kitchen capitalism was some little door-to-door project, didn't you? Oh no. And wait till you hear about the American evangelist market; you'll go vermilion with envy.

So Stephen Fry was waiting for the script because it's all last minute and at 8.45am, Page Not Available came up on the Mac. I have back-up, naturally, but it was the same on the laptop and on the PC. It takes 10 minutes for technological morons like myself to work it out. The router had conked out. Airport had gone down. Happy is the reader for whom these terms mean nothing. Restarting didn't work, Reinstall is beyond me, veins were popping in my face and a sullen mist was obscuring my peripheral vision. I ended up keying the script into my Blackberry.

But that was no more than half the woe. When I'd phoned Computer Assistance (the mere call was enough to make the router work) emails started bouncing back from all over. The WAV files from Wales had become corrupt. The Chinese address wouldn't print because the font had disappeared, an internet bandit had tried to empty my bank account, Paypal hadn't paid my graphic designer and . . . I'm boring myself now. Everything that can go wrong eventually will, nothing changes. We have to rise above it.

And for all its stupidity, the internet makes things possible. My graphic designer in Bangalore is clipping images for one tenth of the price charged by the design house across the road. They quoted £300, I asked Pavan to do it for $50. He grumblingly agreed. He'll do the same for you, I dare say, if you ask. I found him through Google with half a dozen keystrokes, and so can you.

What is this going to do for British design houses? The internet must be driving them mad, too. Will the axe be the solution they need?