Too Much to Expect
I woke to the theme from ‘Knight Rider’, playing on a mobile phone. After eight bars it cut out abruptly. Then it started again. Played through eight bars. Cut out. Began again. Stopped.
“That was the ‘Theme from Knight Rider,’” announced a cheery voice, “and this is 3Henry Kelly bringing you Classic Ringtones, an hour of the most relaxing ringtones of yesteryear. Now next on the line I see we have … Shannon, from Wolverhampton. Good morning, Shannon!”
“Hello there, 3Henry!”
“Now, Shannon, do you have a favourite ringtone to share with us this morning?”
“Yes, 3Henry, I do!” Shannon said brightly.
“Well, that’s great now, and can you tell us all what that ringtone is?”
A pause. “Well it’s a bit embarrassing,” the matronly voice admitted, “because it’s very well known, you’d know it if you heard it, but I don’t actually think I know what it’s called.”
“Never mind,” I heard 3Henry say reassuringly. “Do you think you can hum a bit of it for us?”
A giggle. “I’ll try,” said Shannon. “Um … dee deedle dee deedle dee deedle dee…”
“Ah yes, the Badinique from the Bach Suite No. 2 for solo flute in D Minor. That’s a lovely ringtone, isn’t it? And can I ask, Shannon, is there a special story behind it for you?”
“Yes, 3Henry, there is. You see, when my husband was working, before we were married, he used to spend a lot of time on trains. The old-fashioned ones without magnets. So obviously he talked on his mobile phone all the time. And this was the special ringtone he had just for me.”
“What a lovely story. For those of you just joining us, this is 3Henry Kelly bringing you Classic Ringtones, an hour of the most relaxing ringtones of yesteryear, with Shannon from Wolverhampton on the line. And now, here is the Badinique from the Bach Suite No. 2 for solo flute in D Minor.”
Dee deedle dee deedle dee deedle dee
I’d have been happy to lie and listen to another five minutes of Classic Ringtones, but the smart bed had other ideas. Always a machine with a somewhat fretful temperament, it had detected the changes in my pulse and temperature, and now it wanted to get me up so that it could make itself. The mattress started shifting and prodding me nervously.
“Yes, all right,” I grumbled.
I got up and stepped into the ‘drobe, where after a bracing ultrasonic detox I was ready to select the morning’s outfit. I called up the archive; made a selection. Nozzles in the ‘drobe walls issued a fine polymer jet that coagulated round me into my garments of choice. There had been the usual teething problems with the technology in the early years, but nowadays they had been mostly, as we used to say, “ironed out.”
I swung by the dispenser, collected a Nutri-Grain bar (rendered palatable and nutritious after many decades of research) and flipped on the Turing
“Good morning, Hilary!” it chirped. “What a fantastic outfit, but then, I suppose, with your tall, slim figure, you can wear almost anything, really.”
That’s the great thing about the Turing, it always knows what to say.
“Anything in the mailbox?”
“Mostly junk mail. Looks like the usual bunch of lawyers.”
I bit into my breakfast and nodded. Thanks to the genius of Nobel Laureate Sarah Palin in the early part of the century, the world was now a virtually crime-free place. Hordes of out-of-work lawyers haunted the networks, offering sexual favours in exchange for food.
“Do you want me to read any out?” the Turing wanted to know.
“Um … no … delete them.”
Absently I crossed to the window. The commuter traffic had pulled politely to a halt. A flock of GM pigs soared past, oinking merrily.
“Anything in the news?”
“Cure for the common cold, apparently.”
That had been on the cards since the man-flu breakthrough. I wasn’t really surprised.
“And the perpetual motion generator down at Medway is online again.”
“You must be relieved to hear that,” I said. There had been an embarrassing period a few months ago when the Turing kept cutting out mid-sentence and only coming round a few hours later, unaware that time had passed.
It agreed wholeheartedly.
“Was there anything else?”
It always asks this. And every day, the answer is exactly the same.
“Go on,” I said.
“Your dot.com stocks are at $2.54, still marginally less than what you paid for them at the end of the twentieth century.”
I nodded fatalistically. I’d expected nothing more.
Some things never change.