Monday, February 9, 2009

Cut off

It's official: snow has the power to bring the country to its knees.
Last Monday, like many people, I couldn't make it in to the office. No trains, full stop.

The kids headed for the park with sledges; I headed for the computer for some remote working.
A few hours later, a rogue piece of spyware sneaked in and hijacked my screen - which promptly went blank.
And stayed that way for the rest of the week.

The next day, the roads were clearer, but disaster number two struck. For the first time ever, our boringly reliable car wouldn't start.
I felt like I was undergoing a modern-day Luddite experience: no computer, no car, pavements still skiddy and icy so couldn't venture too far too fast.
Everything was being stripped back. After a while I just gave in to fate, and it was oddly comforting. No emails, no urge to Google useless websites, no deadlines to worry about.

It reminded me of powercuts when I was living abroad a few years ago. In the Pacific country where I spent three years as a teacher, 'blackouts' were regular occurance, especially during tropical storms.
Again, you'd suddenly be left with no computer, no lights, no TV, no CDs.

Plenty of candles and books, though. And the Guardian Weekly crossword, which could keep us going for days.
Returning to the West's full-on barrage of multimedia sensory overload, our candlelit crossword sessions seem quaint and a little antiquated. But they served a purpose at the time.
And they were a reminder that, sometimes, less is more. Simple can be good. If you've got less, less can go wrong.

This week, the computer is repaired. The car is fixed. But it's got me thinking about scaling back - not just economically but in terms of what we accumulate, sometimes without even thinking about it.
These days, there's all the more reason for making meaningful, informed choices about what we buy for ourselves and our homes.
That's why I love Ecohip's pages ( it's all good, useful stuff that you can buy with a clear conscience. Some things are fun, but not frivolous. I'd prefer to spend a tenner on something gorgeous and ecologically sound from there than run-of-the mill stuff from Boots.
I guess being back online isn't such a bad thing after all...


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