The Internet of Thingummies

My worst Christmas dream

I woke up (I think) and opened one eye to peak at my radio alarm clock as I have for the last thirty odd years – to check on the time. But its screen was different to-day: slightly larger than the old one, it had four lines of text on it: ‘Good morning, John’ it read. ‘You have slept for 6.27 hours. Your temperature is 37 degrees. You have 15 e-mails, 27 tweets, two LinkedIn and 17 Facebook messages’, it announced. I buried my head in the pillow as quickly as possible. When eventually I looked up again, the messages had changed. ‘Don’t forget your Mother’s birthday to-morrow. And you asked to be reminded about: the milk, the cat and thanking your children.’ Dear me, yes! I had completely forgotten, for just one moment, about their gift, and reluctantly I picked up the mobile phone, and put on the watch and the specs that were also part of the system that comprised Premium Membership of the Xanadu Lifestyle Internet Club that my children had heard about as at the Consumer Electronics Show and had clubbed together to buy me for Christmas – by magic from the Alibaba website, they said. I believed them. Thus equipped, I was supposed to feel like a ‘Complete New Man,’ purred the instructions. As though to reinforce its presence, my watch promptly buzzed and a message appeared on the tiny screen at the top of my specs. ‘Your Mother Skyped you 3.2 minutes ago’, it read. I pulled my phone from my pocket. It was flashing a message. ‘Your heart rate is 87; your temperature is 39.4 degrees’, it read; ‘your doctor has been told.’ I jabbed at the screen where it said ‘Call back’, and a disembodied Japanese voice came on: ‘Adding bottle Suntory Gin to your shopping list’, it said in conspiratorial tones. I jabbed again to try and call my Mother. This time a cultured Indian voice: ‘Your doctor will see you at 16.42 on 19 Feb,’ it said. ‘Hi-fitness Skipping Ropes Inc has a special offer that you can pick up by clicking on this dongle when you are getting the milk’, it added. My watch suddenly emitted a piercing tone and my phone and my specs all showed a red message: ‘After deducting the Vet’s Direct Debit, you are overdrawn by £0.74’, they read. Then another: ‘The front tyre of your bicycle has a puncture; the spare is in the third drawer down in the cabinet on the left of the fireplace’. Then another. ‘Your train is running 6.4 minutes late, so you will miss your connection at Clapham Junction’. Then another. ‘Your boss thinks you are….’. I put the specs in front of the watch in front of the phone beside the alarm clock, and muttered two words to them all; and strode off into the blue, wondering how on earth to thank my children for the Internet of Thingummies, and hoping but with little hope for a better dream to-morrow.

John Whatmore


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