Alice-Azania Jarvis: The spending gods have killed my laptop

In The Red

Oh, if only I'd kept my big mouth shut. If only I hadn't been so damn smug about my freeloading trip to Ibiza, perhaps I wouldn't be in this situation. It's a sign, I'm sure. A sign from the spending gods that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Because Ibiza has killed my laptop.

It died within hours of my bashing out my last column – even more of a sign that my bragging ways were to blame. Now, when I turn on my ageing Mac (a model so archaic that it's neither manufactured any longer nor resembles any modern version), I am greeted not by the gradual clunking into place of my standard desktop background, but by a rapid assembly of multicoloured vertical stripes – and then nothing. No icons, no mouse, just the stripes. It's time for a new laptop.

Why do I never plan for these things? It never occurs to me that I might suddenly have to spend my salary on something significant – something that costs over £100 – as opposed to just frittering it away on the usual coffees, lunches and drinks.

Immediately, I've had to abandon my ambitions of buying one of those sleek and beautiful MacBooks, so many zeros do their price tags advertise. I considered getting a netbook – far more reasonable in price and seductively dinky – but none of them seem to have disk drives. If I don't have a CD player in my computer, I might have to start buying by music – as opposed to borrowing CDs from friends, burning them on to my iTunes, and living happily ever after. In the long-run, a netbook would be a false economy.

So, I'm stuck. A clunking great machine seems an inevitability, and one with limited memory at that. Irritatingly, even though I'm looking at the lowest end of the market, I suspect I'll have to fork out a good few hundred (as much as a holiday! On a boring old machine!).

I've only looked at three stores so far – John Lewis, Argos and PC Warehouse – but already a pattern is emerging: retailers may price competitively on most products, but when it comes to computing it's all much of a muchness. All this is not helped by the fact that I know next to nothing about IT and am going to have to make my purchase in a hurry. Being in the business of word processing, owning a word processor is something of a necessity. So, before the week is out, I'm expecting to be considerably poorer.

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