Consumerism (6) – living boxes

After all, home entertainment sounds so dreary. And I can hardly title a blog, TVs, computers, gadgets, smartphones, iPads, video/DVD recorders, fax machines, can I?

All suggestions for a better title will be carefully considered and will most likely be rejected. Animated boxes was another one I thought of before anyone thinks they can steal a march with that. Living was shorter.

Come on. Hands up. Or fingers to the keyboard more like. How many of you have a television and/or a computer in every room?

Oh!! Excitement!! I can do another poll πŸ™‚

When we were living in Sydney, a landlord friend who felt sorry for us (the same one who took us to the register office in his white transit van) lent us a TV. Can’t say I was that bothered but as it was approaching Wimbledon I suddenly perked up at the gesture.

On returning to the UK and my parental home we decided to buy a portable TV to put in our bedroom so we could escape Coronation Street, Emmerdale Farm and the rest of my parents’ staple television diet. It was a Hitachi, made in Wales.

More than ten years after buying that one, and not having a single problem with it, I might add, we invested in a real size television. No, not a flat screen, just one that was bigger than 17 inches. The portable looked rather diminutive in our large sitting room and the screen seemed to be getting smaller. We bought a Grundig, which I bought on the advice of my Ethical Consumer magazine (more on ethical shopping next post). It came with a free portable although we did try to argue for a discount instead. And failed.

We had TVs coming out of our ears so we gave the Hitachi to my parents so my mum could watch grand opera in bed while my dad watched rugby or cricket in the lounge. Or vice versa. It didn’t work of course. When we asked if they had a TV point in the bedroom they thought we meant an electrical socket……

The Grundig pair came to Spain with us but sadly both eventually succumbed to a dust seizure (they all do that). So we have been TV less for er… not sure how many years. We did that before too in our second house. And because of the stupid rules in the UK, we had taken the portable to my parents to store so that we couldn’t get caught for having a TV and no licence. I won’t get into how many letters I received telling me to buy a licence for a television I didn’t have.

Music? Never bought any stereo, sound surround or anything like that. Nor tape recorders.

We did buy a Video player to go with the Grundig (my upmarket days). We still have it, and all the useless videos…..

Computers. The first was an Amstrad in 87 or 88 when we had our first house. Floppy disk only because I was too tight to pay for hard disk as well. We sold it for Β£50 to someone doing some work on our third house. I bought an IBM c 93. It got chucked out last year, it was technically still working.

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But the rot had set in back in 2001 when we were renting the Villa from Hell in Spain and there was a power cut which destroyed the hard disk. A clever Spanish computer chappy bodged together something to fit on the outside (totally electrically unsafe) and asked if we needed the floppy drive. I said no which was really stupid of me. Hey, it was a stressful time living in the VfH and trying to buy a Spanish property that didn’t have sixty million caveats.

We’d always promised me an Apple when we had some spare money. Now, as this post is about consumerism, I should say that unlike the Vauxhall Astra and Layla, I was not buying into advertising. Or aspirations. The simple truth is, that Apples were always the computer used on newspapers, and in my PR life by decent graphic designers. So, having cleared that one up, it was a professional desire not an aspirational one.

I bought one in 2006 (iMac something). Loved it. Next year when we moved to Gib I bought a laptop (MacBookPro – large screen). Expensive. Love it. Naughty thing broke down though just after I’d had the one year warranty. Ferocious bill for repair. Still love him, darling Hal.

So in 24 years I had two computers, and yet I have bought two in two years. Such is life. I am well out of date with my Mac OS (operating system). I can’t even remember what big cat I am. A tiger maybe because they have had leopards and snow leopards and lions since then. It’s getting to the stage where I don’t get updates because I haven’t changed the system. I really, really loathe the idea that I need to keep changing my software, or my hardware, because some new upgrade comes out.

And why should I? A computer that works fast enough for me is good enough, because I am the first to complain about slow computers. We had a crazy policy at work of exchanging computers around the organisation based on the totally spurious fact that accountants used spreadsheets so therefore needed the fastest computers.

That explained why every time I got a new, ie not so new computer, that nothing improved. That was why my 50 or 100 page document crashed, why my graphs wouldn’t insert (or even work), or my spreadsheets wouldn’t open. So I’m having to redo all my edits and changes (costing vast amounts of money on my salary – or rather vast amounts of my time as I didn’t get overtime) – just because some computer manager outdatedly thought the only ones needing big computer memory were accountants with spreadsheets???

‘Phones. Mobiles never really interested me, but partner bought one of those suitcase versions back in the 80s and has had them ever since. We’re in double figures on this one – but who isn’t?

Faxes, as above, but he wanted one for work, so we’ve always had one, still do. Can still be useful amazingly.

No flat screen TV, no Kindle, iPad, iPod, or anything else like that really. Oh, a Sony Walkman bought to learn Spanish with my Linguaphone tapes. Partner threw it out thinking it was beyond repair and has not yet stopped being reminded about that one.

Some years ago (ie a lot) we had a three day week in the UK when we were short of electricity. Many of you will remember it. At our home we lit candles, a fire, and listened to the radio. Sometime we played cards or dominoes by candlelight. I liked it.

1 Hitachi portable
1 Grundig
1 Grundig portable (free)
Currently – none
Video Recorders
1 Grundig (or maybe 2?)
Currently – the same because not yet thrown out 😦
1 Amstrad
Currently the darling Apples of my heart –
1 Apple iMac (desktop)
1 Apple MacBookPro (laptop)
oh, and this one –
1 HP something or other (forgot this one – had to buy something when Hal was poorly)
Mobile phones
A zillion
Currently – 1 iPhone (one previously stolen), and 2 Nokias
Fax machines
A few, currently – one working, one not working and the printer allegedly does it too.
Oh, I forgot printers.
1 Canon laserjet (b&w)
2 crap HP jobs
Currently –
Another Canon laser (B&W)
A Brother coloured thing (also the current fax)

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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32 Responses to Consumerism (6) – living boxes

  1. Ah the apple. It just works. No Vitus attack, mine seems not to crash (probably will now) multiple TVs, we have two piglets! Old phones (mobile) mine is four years ish old. The One has a mobile designed by Noah.

    What you allude to is true. Even if we try not to we accumulate stuff. I am impressed by your stats though.


  2. Vitus attack? I guess that is a special saint’s dance for computers? πŸ™‚

    We did well on the computers for twenty odd years. Two is pretty good I think over that period. I have to laugh that although I proclaim Apple to be vastly superior in design and software terms for people who are not nerdy (eg able to fiddle with linux), I could be annoyed that the logicboard packed up on Hal. And yet, when I use poor sad HP the sauce who is so neglected, I get infuriated with Windows and Microsoft. So I would pay for Apple all over again. The quality for watching DVDs is also vastly superior, in another world. And so it should be at the price.

    Not sure what you mean by my stats – how do they compare? No idea. I don’t know how much more or less than other people I have bought/do consume which is why I am posting this series and my acquisitions.


  3. What about a reel-to-reel tape recorder? Did you have one of those? My first computer was a Sinclair ZX81 and then I was hopelessly hooked – I’ve got an Apple tree in the garden!


  4. I said no tape recorders. Isn’t that the same thing? But anyway, no is the answer. Must read your post and see when you got your computer …. of course you are older than me so maybe before?


  5. Blu says:

    I have a JVC telly, I understand the technical term is fat back, as it hails from the last century. I have an amplifier, pair of large Wharfdale speakers and CD player, that come from the same era.

    Recently I had to source my own work laptop and opted for a Mac Book Air. Suddenly all I needed to take on short business trips was my computer bag, as the Mac fits snuggly in the document pocket on the side, leaving the laptop bit free for clothes. I’m on my third mobile phone (I hate the fact that with the previous two it was cheaper to replace them with a new one than buy a new battery) and, No, it has no idea what the Internet is. I do not have a tablet, except of course if my knee starts hurting.

    I had to replace my 8 yr old Compaq desktop a few months ago with a large Sony laptop as a desktop replacement. I hope both laptops have a long and happy future ahead of them, and will come with mr where ever I go.



    • Is it? Then we too have a fat back πŸ˜€ as we still have one suffering from terminal dust seizure that has not yet been ditched. All mine hailed from C20.

      Think partner had some Wharfedale speakers, although they seemed to give up the ghost at some point. They were very old. I always wanted to buy some other speakers, the name of which I can not remember. Will have to think about that one. They sounded wonderful. British. Elitist. You know the sort of thing πŸ˜€

      I am very boring with computers. If anyone asks my advice I will bore them to death about Apple/Mac. Even if you aren’t a journo/graphic designer they are so much superior {insert usual adulation re AppleMacs}

      But does your mobile receive email?? We have bought the cheapest one ever recently, which doesn’t even do that 😦

      If your knee starts hurting I recommend massage oil, probably using lavender, or other essential oils depending on the cause. I don’t take to tablets, of whatever shape or form.

      Compaq wasn’t what it was, if you follow that. Used to be pretty solid, but then they had all the problems, mixed with HP and ….

      But I wish your laptops well, especially, Hal Air. You probably know we have an Apple place in Gib fortunately (fortunately for me).


      • Blu says:

        Hal Air will be 3 years old this summer and runs Leopard. I considered upgrading to Lion, only to be told I had to buy Snow Leopard as well, so soon ditched that idea.

        I didn’t know there was an Apple place in Gib. Hopefully I won’t need to be shopping in any Apple place until atleast 2016.


        • Hal Laptop must def be on Tiger then, and I never really considered Leopard, I think there were some things it did quirkily (in typical Hal fashion) that I considered mine did better. Must remember to keep backing up though as we are now five years old this year. Actually you might make it to 2016, touch metal.


      • Blu says:

        My mobile receives SMS text messages, does that count ?


  6. Vicky says:

    😳 My girls have nicknamed me gadget gran, bit of an Apple geek to be honest, just need a Macbook for the full set.
    TV, we bought a 32″ flat screen 2 years ago when the huge carbuncle of a TV packed up, T spends more time watching sport than anything else, while I’m Apple bobbing.


    • Ah, I am lacking the iPad and unlikely to get one. So you have a ‘phone, desktop, and pad thing? Laptop is well useful I tell you πŸ™‚

      If you are gadget gran what does that make me I wonder????

      I don’t think we have time for TV, although a few years ago I found some nice streaming sites (apple bobbing – great term) for sport and news. Since removed by pesky America.


      • Vicky says:

        iMac, Phone, Pod and Pad. 😳 The iPad was a retirement pressie from me to me πŸ˜‰
        I do possess a laptop, with Windows something or other on it. If I go away, it goes with me, mainly to store and edit photos etc, but so I wish it was a Macbook instead.


  7. free penny press says:

    I feel very frugal (electronically ) then.. I have one cell phone, one Toshiba (it’s Red and I love it) laptop, TV for the kids (none in my room) and one printer/copier/fax..that’s it

    Oh, forgot my itouch for le music!!!!


  8. You mentioned smart phones right in your opening lines and I promptly forgot them when I did your survey. I am on my second laptop – both Windows because that’s what my introduction to computers has been at work.
    While I listen to most of my music on my computer, I also use the car radio while commuting. And I do some of my computing on my BlackBerry.
    And speaking of BlackBerry, I am currently on my second one, my 4th cell phone. Got my first mobile phone in 1999 and it was big and heavy enough to be considered a potential murder weapon. Don’t remember the brand. This was followed by a small, lightweight and very red LG flip phone six or seven years ago. Loved how handy it was.
    And now I have a BlackBerry Torch 9081 which repaced my Tour that I had for two years prior to that. Guess I am a BlackBerry fan despite their challenges they have had. But fan or not, it will no longer let me leave comments using my pix & kardz identity – so this comment, which is probably already long enough – will probably need moderation.
    BTW we are on Printer #3, an HP of some kind.


    • I lied. Or rather forgot something. There was a small flip-phone before the red LG. It had a monochrome green and black screen and had some free games on it. So I guess I am on cell phone #5 πŸ™‚


    • Our first mobile was more than ten years before yours! hence the suitcase reference.

      Yes, you are a dubious person who did need moderating πŸ˜€ much to my surprise!!

      Only the second laptop though!! No desktops at home either???

      I guess most of our stuff has been work-related. Either for him or for me. Not sure how it would have worked out if we hadn’t both needed the computers/printers/fax/internet/mobiles – forgot external modem on the list above!!


      • pix & kardz says:

        i was only listing some of the toys at home, actually – but shouldn’t do so when i haven’t had breakfast yet. i did have an old PC which i completely forgot (an Atari? does that sound like a brand name), but i could never quite figure it out and i was very happy to get rid of it in the end. and then i had use of a PC with an older version of windows before i got my first laptop, but it wasn’t officially mine so i hadn’t counted it. but i guess you were talking household. so i may have to rewrite all my of answers again. πŸ™‚
        so counting all the computers that have entered our front door, including those that are not my own, and those which have long since departed by the back door – there have been six altogether.
        and i actually completely forgot about about a silver-coloured flip-phone between the murder weapon and my red LG. so that makes my current Torch my cell phone #5. i did not count other cell phones past and present at home which were not mine. so, with a more awake brain, i guess altogether (including my five) cellphones past and present total to about 10.
        you may remember from one of the Leap Year posts – i am not good with numbers πŸ˜€
        never got into the faxing thing, and now most places are ok with emails, so i guess that is one technological step i never embraced at home. but at work faxing still happens.
        am at my laptop again, where i can be pix & kardz to my heart’s content πŸ˜€


        • Too funny. So you have had more computers than me actually πŸ˜€ And I don’t think I can claim to have had five mobiles either. Maybe three that I can remember? If it wasn’t for A and work, our list for everything would be well low (apart from my adorable Hal apples of course)


  9. pendantry says:

    Mobiles never really interested me, but partner bought one of those suitcase versions back in the 80s and has had them ever since. We’re in double figures on this one – but who isn’t?

    (I assume you’re referring to double figures for number of mobile phones) Me, for one. And I suspect a lot more wouldn’t be, were they were more aware of the true cost (see for instance Blood in the Mobile).


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