La-la-la-la-la-la Land

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I have been around for over half a century. I have lived through politically uncertain times. I have lived through politically unstable regimes. I have always felt fortunate not to have lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, as my parents did as young newlyweds, but I have in childhood and adulthood lived through times of war, pestilence, civil unrest, nuclear brinkmanship, unfavourable election results, betrayal, disappointment, fear, anger, riots, rebellions and a deep, deep sense of the futility of resistance. I’ve voted. I’ve demonstrated. I’ve boycotted. I’ve signed petitions. I’ve marched. I’ve woken up to seismic events that have felt fundamentally outside of my control and experienced powerlessness on an existential scale. With the years, I’ve grown used to lies and scandal and incompetence and greed from the political class, and some days I feel as if the hope has been knocked out of me for good. But I’ve never felt as anxious and depressed about the state of geopolitics as I do today. To stick my fingers in my ears and go “la-la-la-la-la-la” is a constant craving. And that’s not like me at all.

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I wake up every morning with what feels like a rock in my stomach, fearful to log on or turn on the TV. As it happens, this morning, nothing especially bad had happened overnight. President Trump’s National Security Adviser General (retired) Michael T. Flynn, who was forced to retire again after 24 days in the post, is now the subject of a damage limitation exercise designed to blame the leak that exposed his misdemeanours on staff of the outgoing Obama administration. Trump himself has remained uncharacteristically quiet on the issue, perhaps because it reflects so poorly on his choices, or the choices made on his behalf; while counsellor Kellyanne Conway continues to age at a rate of a year a day due to the existential stress of having to constantly lie her way out of a lie.

It’s not just Trump who causes anxiety, with his baby-like disposition and fundamental failure to join the dots between one CAPS LOCK promise/threat and its direct consequences, preferring instead to make a thumbs-up gesture and yell “FAKE NEWS!” at anything that does not please him; it’s the white supremacists he surrounds himself with: predominantly clueless about what it means to take public office and speak oaths but determined to “destroy the state” (Steve Bannon’s words, not mine) from within. I never did understand the Republican desire to be in government and then shrink the government, but I assumed it was a plan based on shrinking its regulatory authority and public spending while keeping the same number of snouts in the trough, except with less of the boring stuff to actually do. It is this boring stuff, I hope, that will eventually bring Trump down – ironically, from within.

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The fact that Trump won the presidency but lost the popular vote, just like his nearest antecedent George W. Bush, clearly niggles at him like a tiny woodpecker permanently poised on his ear and tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tapping away at his planet-sized ego. We have never before witnessed a man so ill-suited to presidential office. Criticising anyone about their appearance, or their dress sense, or the state of their face, would be cruel and shallow ordinarily. But, as with Bannon, he wears his dark soul on the outside. (Spicer, Conway, DeVos, Priebus, these are straw people by comparison.) Mocking Trump’s elaborate racetrack of hair, or his incompetently and incompletely applied spray-tan (with those goggle marks making his eyes seem ever more like two squashed figs), is childish, and boring. But when the man beneath that haircut and behind those figs is such a negative, uncontrollable and dangerous force, knowing that he has one of the worst haircuts in the world offers a tiny glimmer of respite from all the damage he may wreak in his first 100 days. (This honeymoon period ends in April. I can’t even imagine that far into the future.)

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He won 304 electoral votes, to Hillary Clinton’s 227, and that is a victory. That he mobilised the country’s disaffected is surely without argument. That he did so by not being “a politician”, and by being perceived, thanks to television and banner headlines, as a “successful businessman” (which was “just what this country needed”, we were told time and again by the braying, baseball-capped faithful) is also an empirical fact. In many ways, mainstream politics lost the 2016 US Election. The Democrats certainly lost it as much as the Republicans won it – not least because Trump wasn’t even popular among his own party and Tweeted his way directly to the heart of certain sections of the electorate. Everything about him that I hated while he yelled his way into pole position as the Republican candidate – altogether now: his misogyny, his xenophobia, his vanity, his crudity, his creepiness, his Addams family, his hand gestures – I hate about him still. But an unpredictability  seems to have replaced a predictability, and that’s terrifying. There seems, at present, nothing he can do to put off those he affected to represent, but who, in real life, he’d run down rather than speak to.

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I was terrified of George W. Bush, too. I knew him to be a dimwit, and a puppet, and unstatesmanlike, and he didn’t know anything about the wider world, which he had rarely visited. (Trump had certainly travelled further before becoming president, but mainly to inspect real estate that would clearly look classier with his name on.) Bush was the pliant, lazy mouthpiece for committed Neocons with far more interest in ideological politics and the New American Century – he did their bidding and went to play golf – and in many ways that was paradise compared to what we’ve ended up with now. It does not bear imagining what Trump would have done if Saudi terrorists had flown two planes into two large towers in New York in 2001.

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Actually, I wake up every morning with two large rocks in my stomach. The other has been there longer, since the result of the Brexit referendum. I admit I thought Remain had that one in the bag, and went to bed on the night of June 23 quietly confident that common sense would prevail. I was wrong. I had underestimated people’s hatred of “politicians” and “immigrants”. It’s been a living nightmare ever since, not because of the divisions it has exposed in our society, which were clearly already there, or the fact that I can only see this country turning into an unregulated tax haven with no standing whatsoever in the world and everything bankrolled by China, which is a bit embarrassing for all of us, but because it should never have taken place in the way that it did. A referendum about something as important as the future of the country should never have been winnable by either side by a margin of 1,269,501 votes. Surely – surely! – it should have hinged on a majority of something like 60% at least?

Talking of democracy. The petition calling for Trump to be blocked from enjoying the ego-fluffing privilege of a State Visit, continues to spiral upwards – as I type, it’s at 1,857,318 – but the Government has now stated that it will grant the State Visit, even though it is duty-bound by its own rules to “debate” the petition next week. The words “foregone” and “conclusion” can be joined together in this case. But it has been a simple pleasure to watch the numbers rattle upwards before our very eyes. And a little bit of fun is not much to ask in this dark age.

I have written on my Telly Addict blog about the healing power of Pointless. It may seem trite to regard a daytime quiz show as an antidote to the apocalyptic uncertainty of modern times in the year 2017, but it’s the daily equivalent of a La La Land, and not just Hollywood escapism, but a way to celebrate geniality and general knowledge and fair play, and – hey why not? – the best of being British. Or the best of living in Britain, whatever your background.

I guess part of me must believe that we’ll get through this, whether it’s four years, eight years, or a number somewhere between one and eight, depending on how close to impeachment or a CIA black op Trump sails. Otherwise, I’d be under my duvet right now, rocking back and forth and singing the la-la-la-la song. I’m not. I’m up, and out, and thinking about work and domestic issues and family and films, and tonight’s Pointless. It’s hard to feel proud to be British in 2017, especially with our own conservatives wooing the babyman and doing things with their hands that they would never ordinarily do. Trump has turned our representatives (and sadly, to him, Farage is one) into glad-handing Richard Hammonds to his Jeremy Clarkson, desperate to gain his approval by laughing at his off-colour, racist jokes.

It’s nice to think that the actors and filmmakers who make speeches at awards ceremonies represent us, but they don’t. They represent what the disaffected have been advised to regard as “the metropolitan elite”, which I gather is anyone who lives in a town and reads past the headline in a newspaper. It’s not good enough to exist in a bubble, or an echo chamber – you have to keep an eye on these craven, self-serving, nuance-resistant, unconstitutional monsters; watch Fox News, read Trump’s childlike Tweets, investigate the backstories of his lieutenants; challenge, gainsay, make a withering placard and prove that satire is not dead: MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN; KEEP YOUR TINY HANDS OFF OUR RIGHTS; WE SHALL OVERCOMB; MIKE PENCE LIKES NICKELBACK; GRAB ME BY MY PUSSY I DARE YOU!

They don’t wear white hoods, but they speak directly to those that do, or would do if it weren’t for “snowflake” political correctness. David Bowie got out before all this shit happened. In his name we must overcome. And that starts with getting out of bed in the morning.

 

2013: Writer’s blog

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Behold, a year in “selfies”, although taken with my laptop not my phone, and holding a variety of mugs in a variety of places, including my old bedroom at my Mum and Dad’s house, a dressing room at the Roundhouse, a dressing room in a car park in Glasgow and a hotel lounge in Cheltenham. Having this week parodied my gender once again and organised 2013 into a series of lists, how about a more considered review of the year? This time last December, I will have been glancing over my shoulder and bemoaning the loss of Word magazine. A year and half on from its demise, I can state that nothing has replaced it. What I can’t have known last Christmas is that I would stop being asked to deputise on 6 Music in 2013 and have thus spoken nary a word on the radio all year, apart from a couple of appearances on Front Row (for which I remain grateful). Maybe this is for the greater good. If I didn’t read out my weekly TV review in a little rectangle on the Guardian website, I would be a writer and a writer only. There’s something appealing to me about that, after more than 25 years of dabbling and failing to commit. Signing with Avalon in March 2012 helped to focus me on what I really want to do with my life: write scripts. (And edit other people’s.)

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I think I’m right in saying that a year ago I had two comedy pilot scripts in development. One of those, Total Class for Channel 4, has since fallen by the wayside (I may as well name it now it’s dead). The other, for the BBC, has enjoyed a belated surge of energy with a top-level cast assembled around it with a view to a read-through for the broadcaster in the New Year. Fingers crossed for that. (The surviving script was commissioned at the same time as Total Class, but I’ve been working really hard on rewriting it from scratch.) In addition, I now have another sitcom in development, of which more presently, but which began life in February over a desk in the offices of production company The Comedy Unit in Glasgow when I was up to cameo in series one of Badults (which they produce and which I script edit). Below is a snapshot of Tom, Ben and Matthew aka Pappy’s, exec Gavin, me and producer Izzy at an early London session for series two of Badults, which is pretty much ready to shoot in early 2014. A very happy association for me. (Although I did the work in 2012, the first episode of Greg Davies’ Man Down for C4 also afforded me a script editor’s credit, which I was proud of when it went out. I also thought of the title.)

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It’s been fantastic working on Badults (and appearing as “Andrew Collins” in series one, episode six) as it fulfills my desire to hang around with talented comedians – something I’ve always done – while essentially restricted to the backroom, which is where I feel most comfortable at my age. Anyway, fingers also crossed for what I’m calling “the Scottish sitcom”. The script now rests in the inbox of its commissioning editor – again, after rewrites; again, with a big name actor attached – and we await the thumb up or thumb down. It was ever thus, and will forever be. One can just about subsist “in development” but it’s a commission one dreams of.

To lose Word and 6 Music in less than two years has had quite an impact on my income at a time when money is an issue for all but the privately wealthy. (It was an eye-opener to discover this year that Virgin were more than happy to print an updated edition of my Billy Bragg book but did not have the funds to pay the author to actually write the new chapter.) There can’t be a soul reading this who isn’t affected by the continuing economic woes of austerity Britain. I can say without a doubt that I have never hated a sitting government as much as I hate David Cameron’s. It’s almost bracing.

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When Thatcher died this year, I refrained from actually slipping on my dancing shoes, but it was sobering to remember a) how single minded and driven she was, and b) how fundamentally her free-market zeal changed this country. In Thatcherism’s place (she’d never have privatised the Royal Mail, remember), we have something potentially more terrifying: a bunch of self-serving, privately-educated, out-of-touch hereditary hoorays whose hatred of the poor and the weak and the old outstrips Thatcher’s. I don’t remember an issue that has made me so regularly angry as the dismantling of the welfare state, which continues apace and we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We are at the mercy of a political class with no empathy and barely any experience of ordinary life as it is lived by millions.

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I do not wish to live in a country where food banks have to exist. Poisonous Tories like Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey seem not just happy with the situation, they clearly think it’s the poor’s fault for having to swallow their pride and use food banks. There but for the grace of God, or circumstance, go any of us.

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The papers were full of ever more shocking headlines about celebrities and their alleged sexual misconduct (or in the case of Stuart Hall, no longer just alleged, as he pleaded guilty in April to the indecent assault of 13 girls aged between 9 and 17 years old, between 1967 and 1986). As with the Catholic priests before them, it seems all to have been about male power with these DJs, presenters and musicians. The crimes of Ian Watkins of Lostprophets struck a new low in November. If any good has come of all this, it’s the possibility that other victims will no longer remain silent.

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More perversion, but of the course of justice. As a Guardian reader not a contributor, I hereby protest the newspaper’s willing part in the rehabilitation of the sleazy liar Chris Huhne, whose columns it regularly and prominently prints, crediting him as a former cabinet minister and not as a convicted criminal.

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I didn’t get out as much as I might have liked this year. When one is watching the pennies, staying in and watching all that amazing telly that’s on seems a far wiser option. Holidays are for another epoch. However, the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A was a treat. So was a foreshortened trip to the Cheltenham Literature Festival, despite the rain. David Morrissey and Esther Freud’s evening for the charity Reprieve was the poshest thing I attended all year. The Edinburgh TV Festival was as reliable as ever: enjoyed seeing Kevin Spacey and Vince Gilligan live, and hosting Q&As with the Wrong Mans gang, Greg Davies and John Bishop, as well as catching Sarah Millican and Richard Herring’s latest shows. And to repeat the Wrong Mans experience at Bafta in London, this time with James Corden in attendance, was a cherry on a cake (splendid to meet Nick Moran, too). Professionally, it was a pleasure to interview Steve Coogan, Irvine Welsh, Judd Apatow and the World’s End triumverate for Radio Times.

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While we’re in the approximate area of my profession, can I retroactively plant a tree to commemorate finally getting Simon Day’s character Colin on the actual telly? Common Ground was Baby Cow’s compendium for comic characters and Simon and I were chuffed to see Colin come to life, finally, even for ten minutes on Sky Atlantic, having previously written a 90-minute film about him for C4 and had it scrapped by an incoming exec back in 2006. (I wonder where I developed this thick skin?) I even had a cameo as a man walking past a bench, pictured above.

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As a writer I’ve been too busy for most of this year to blog as regularly as I used to. (I never even reviewed the Morrissey book or the end of Breaking Bad or Gravity.) But starting a new blog, Circles Of Life: The 143, was a tonic – and a healthy corrective to any ideas above my station I might have harboured: I may be “followed” by thousands on Twitter, but a mere hundred or so are interested enough to read my essays on the 143 best songs of all time. It really does feel like an exclusive little music-appreciation society, and I intend to plough on in 2014. I welcome your patronage.

I hate to sum a year up by saying it presented something of a holding pattern, but it did. Lots of groundwork was laid for potential growth in 2014. I’m grateful that circumstance has helped focus my ambition. And I’m grateful not to have had to use a food bank, or have my benefits slashed. All work is precarious, whether you’re in employment or self-employed. Telly Addict could go at any moment. Radio Times could do some sums and discover that it doesn’t need a Film Editor. The Scottish sitcom could be rejected, with compliments. But you must have faith.

They may not be in it at all, but we really are in it together.

And I was very pleased with my home baking, including the controversial grape muffins. Let us eat cake.

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Apple: machines of self-loving grace

I am in an abusive relationship. That’s right. I am an Apple Mac user. I have been ever since computers were invented. Alright, ever since I first played with a computer, which was at the beginning of the 1990s. IPC Magazines, for whom I worked at the time, were about to “go computerised.” The NME might have been an outpost of revolutionary thought and rock’n’roll devilry, but we also had to get a newspaper out on a weekly basis (and always did, even when we all went on strike), and when I arrived at the paper in 1988, it was all done by hand.

I enjoy playing the “it was all fields” card and telling young people that I worked on a newspaper pre-computers. Some of the nerdier kids at school must have had Sinclair or BBC computers, but no-one in my immediate social circles did. Our family had the Pong game console for our telly, although we only rented it, and Dad took it back because the shop couldn’t initially supply the gun for the shooting game, and while we waited for it, we got bored with the tennis and squash games, so he got his money back. The first computer I ever “played on” was the Apple Mac Classic II in 1990, the year IPC started to move from cut-and-paste layout to desktop publishing. (Vox, which launched in October 1990, was IPC’s first fully desktop-published magazine, I believe I am right in saying. I worked on it, and typed in my first ever copy to a computer.)

If I may just reminisce about the Old Days for a moment: when I started work on the NME in 1988 the layout room was just that: drawing boards mounted on desks where grids were laid out with photocopies of photos and Letraset-created headlines once they had been “sized up” to fit. The copy – calculated into lengths from the word-count – was “flowed in”, which meant drawing a line in pencil to indicate where it would sit, once typeset. The Even Older Days of “hot metal” printing were behind us, and this is how the copy was typeset: the typewritten pages, marked up by the sub-editors in red pen, were sent to the typesetters, via courier, where the words would be “input” into … yes, a computer! So the company that had a computer could charge us to use it, basically. You can see why a large corporation might think that this had to change once smaller, more affordable desktop PCs came in.

So, in one of the very few examples of actual training I have ever had in my stupid, ramshackle career, I was taught how to use a Mac. Apple colonised the publishing industry pretty categorically. The first computer I used was a Mac, and so I became a Mac user. This was not a qualitative decision, nor an aesthetic one, and certainly not a lifestyle choice, as it may have been for other people. As a freelance journalist, you’d be insane to buy a PC and risk hitting incompatibility problems with your employers. So Macs proliferated through the print media. (The BBC used PCs, and still do. I vividly remember seeing email for the first time in around 1992 when I started broadcasting on Radio 5; our producer, John Yorke, sent a message from his PC to another BBC employee. It was magic. Although his PC had a blue screen and the words came out in white, which looked pretty knackered to my Mac-trained eyes.)

I must have taken the plunge and purchased my own Mac Classic II in 1992, as that’s the date on the oldest Word document in my existing archive: some Collins & Maconie sketches for Mark Goodier’s Radio 1 programme. I think I replaced it with a much heftier Apple Performa in 1994. This was the computer that had a modem, although I could never get it to work and it didn’t matter that much. If I wrote anything at home, I just copied it to a floppy disk and took that with me to whichever office required it. I didn’t know that many people with an email address, and I know for a fact that I wrote my first book, Still Suitable For Miners, without access to the Internet, or email, in 1997. (I interviewed Neil Kinnock for that book by fax to his office in Brussels; and when I wished to look at Billy Bragg’s messageboards on his website, I had to look at them on his PA’s, in her kitchen, and print them off.)

The Performa lasted for a few years. I have fond memories of it, as it felt very professional through its sheer bulk, and I taught myself to touch-type on it, using the Mavis Beacon programme that came with it. I will always be grateful to Mavis.

Stuart, who was much cleverer on computers than me, showed me the Internet, on his Mac at home. I couldn’t believe how long it took for an image to appear, but was moderately impressed. When I was the editor of Q, I experimented with the Internet at the office, but it was pretty lawless and uncoordinated in the mid-90s, and slow, of course. At Emap, which published Q, an “online” department was established on a lower floor, and lots of young people in glasses started appearing. Some of the magazines launched websites, and they were rubbish, but we felt we ought to. It’s amazing to think how new all this was as recently as 1996.

I found a computer engineer in South London who was prepared to do home visits and understood Macs and he made my modem work in about 1998. At the same time, he sold me a reconditioned iMac in a part-exchange deal, which was excellent value for money, and anyway, the iMac struck me as a lovely thing. Around this time, although being a Mac user was like being a second-class citizen in the world, I began to fully appreciate how easy on the eye the Mac interface was, and how nice the machines looked on the outside. And the iMac was so portable and user-friendly, I think I entered my first wave of if not evangelism, certainly preference. With the blooming of email, you didn’t need disks, and compatibility problems were becoming a thing of the past. If I’d wanted to switch to a PC, and enter a world where more computer engineers actually knew how to fix your computer, now was the time. (I seem to remember this new thing called live streaming was unfriendly to Macs initially too.) I declined to swap brands.

I liked the iMac. The modem worked from day one. And it had a handle on top, which was useful now I was 100% freelance and my home was my office, or a rented office was now my office. Moving house or office was much less hassle with the iMac. I switched from the iMac to a Mac PowerBook in around 2004, as I was doing more scriptwriting and wanted the freedom to write wherever I found myself collaborating and had moved out of London.

Stuart had impressed me with his Sony VAIO laptop and I was tempted. But something conservative within me kept me on the Apple path. It’s a strange thing. Apples and PCs look exactly the same. I use a PC at the BBC when I’m at 6 Music, and I used one to write Grass on with Simon Day, as we either wrote in BBC writing sheds, or at my agent’s office, which had PCs. Lee Mack and I wrote the first series of Not Going Out on PCs, as that’s what Avalon had installed in our rented office. Meanwhile, at Radio Times, which is part of the BBC but is a magazine, it’s Apple all the way.

What I’m saying is: I use Mac and PCs in a normal working week. But I prefer using Macs. I hate the way you have to scroll up from the bottom on the PC. I miss the sweet little icons when I’m not on a Mac. I would not get into an argument, much less a fight, about which is better. As you can see, I started out as a Mac user by necessity, not design. And when I was at Q, I fell in love with the intuitive nature of Macs in terms of graphics and text. And yet … I have an LG phone whose camera will only upload to a PC. Little niggles persist.

And the goth-black MacBook, which I bought with the insurance money after my PowerBook was destroyed in a flood at the office I rented in July 2007, should by rights still be in service. It’s only four years old. But I’ve been forced to upgrade. Built-in obsolescence is an age-old trick of the electronics and white goods industries, but the speed at which stuff needs replacing now is criminal. And the computer market is the most brazen of all. I hate it.

The old MacBook, which I did actually love, saw me through quite a bit of thick and thin. It almost became famous, as it was the laptop Richard and I used to record our podcasts on – and indeed, it was GarageBand, bundled in, that first enabled us to even consider the idea of starting a podcast back in 2008, after I’d seen it in action at Word magazine. That MacBook was seen, live, onstage, by hundreds of people. But, as regular listeners to the podcast will know, it rejected the £50 home studio Richard bought it for Christmas, no matter how hard we tried to get the two machines to mate. And last year, in Edinburgh, GarageBand finally ate an entire podcast – the infamous Podcast 123 – something that had been brewing for a while, as GarageBand would often freeze after recordings in the attic. (Here’s a phrase to strike fear into the hearts of Mac users: “Application not responding” … Force quit!)

Also, having taken my MacBook to the, ahem, Genius Bar, at the Apple Store in Central London’s Regent Street once already when the mousepad packed up due to the also-famous collapsing casing issue in January 2009, it had subsequently started to go again. If Apple are so clever, and they are always telling us how clever they are, why did they make a laptop whose casing would crack and cave in under the weight of two wrists? They call it a “known issue” as as such, will repair your casing, by replacing it, as I discovered. But the Apple shop is not a place I like to visit. It’s too friendly and clean and it feels a bit like you are joining a cult just by entering it. The staff are evangelists, and well-trained, and I hope they are well paid, because they are a bit like “greeters” who also know everything about the stock they sell. I bought my second, replacement laptop in PC World, where, at the time, I congratulated myself for only having about two laptops to choose from in the Mac section, whereas PC users had loads to choose from! But I also discovered that PC World’s competitive insurance policy only applied, at that time, to PCs, and not to Macs, which they also sold. In order to have my flooded MacBook looked at, I had to drive to the arse-end of an industrial estate to find some people who could help me. Apple Stores are all very well if you live, or work, near one, but there are only 28 in the whole of the UK, so good luck if you don’t live near a big city.

So, I have a shiny new MacBook Pro, and I am using it today for the very first time. It is faster than the old MacBook, and that’s about it. I really only wanted a like for like replacement, not an upgrade, but since my old one was showing all the signs of packing up under the weight of more than a couple of programmes running at the same time, and had begun to crash on a near-daily basis, especially if I had the audacity to plug a dongle into it, I felt I should play it safe. After all, this laptop is my office. It is my business. When I’m not talking on the radio, all the work I do must travel through this machine of loving grace. Naturally, transferring all my business from MacBook one to MacBook two should have been a breeze. It hasn’t been. Tell me all about Migration Assistant and Time Machine, but you’ll need to buy a lead to do all that. I object to all the extra things Apple make me pay for in order to be a Mac user, especially one who had already paid for the Mac itself. The new MacBook has a new FireWire socket. This means I need a new lead to connect it to my old Mac. Brilliant.

I have now pretty much transferred everything over using a portable hard drive which I bought a few years ago. I did it piecemeal really, and wouldn’t have been able to without the many Mac forums I looked up, or without the assistance of the friendly nerds who follow me on Twitter. (You know who you are.) I went to plug my iPod into my new MacBook this morning for its first charge and, ha ha, the lead had an old FireWire socket on one end. If Apple are going to keep changing things, they should let us have the new leads for free. I think, at the end of the day, I like using Apple products, I just don’t like owning them. And I don’t like the way Apple treats its disciples. It expects them to jump up and down and whoop and pay top dollar for every new shiny Apple thing it puts onto the market, and then it will release a new, improved version, that’s cheaper, about six months later, as a punishment for those early adopters who work so tirelessly on the corporation’s behalf, singing its praises and demonstrating the iPad and the iPhone by waving them around on trains.

My iPod is second generation. It had a black-and-white screen and does not play videos. It is also very big and heavy. I had to get the battery replaced a few years into its life, and I resented that, but I am determined not to replace it. Maybe it will come back into fashion. I do not have an iPad, and nor will I buy an iPad. The iPad is a racket. I will not buy a MacBook Air, as sleek and light as it is, because it doesn’t have a CD drive, and I need one of those, and I’m not buying an external one. I do not have an iPhone. If I did, I would be able to sync it with my MacBook, but a belligerent part of me does not want to give Steve Jobs the satisfaction.

Richard Herring’s house is like an Apple Store where nothing is for sale. He is Steve Jobs’ wet dream. Or is he? He hates Apple, too. Many of us do. If you are a PC user, do not look patronisingly down upon us. We are caught in a web. And Apples do look nicer. You must admit. And that’s what counts, in the end.

STOP PRESS!

I found a sad photo of the Hard Drive that died in 2007when my old PowerBook was drowned. The good people at the arse-end of an industrial estate did their best with my waterlogged machine, drying every single component out, but it could not be saved. I should have noted down time of death.