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Not Even Remotely Hi-Tech

The dvd remote control isn't working. If you point it at the telly it just opens the DVD tray. If this happens during Shrek 2, an all-time classic that remains on heavy rotation in our house to this day, you have to watch the trailer for Madagascar 2 again.

And that is a fate worse than death. You can't fast forward it (why is that?) but even if you could, the remote is broken, isn't it? Dad needs to act.

When a quiet moment arrives, I go online to check out the state of play. It emerges that since I bought my DVD player, which mentally I still regard as state of the art, it has been replaced, or superseded, an amazing five times. The only reason it hasn't been superseded more than this is because the last model to supersede it was simply discontinued. Thankfully it doesn't say when. I console myself by assuming it was recently.

For reasons I can't quite explain, this depresses me far more than the dodgy remote control. It somehow takes on the significance of a world slipping away from me. I used to be tech guy. I prided myself on being ahead of that whole tech scene. My DVD player played MP3s when MP3s were science fiction. Now the door opens when it feels like it and anyone who ever had a similar model is in a witness protection programme.

This thought rents a room in my head. It preoccupies me over tea. Rather than take an interest in the issues of the day -- is the gas timer still working? How are Skye's bowel movements? Are the terrorists showing any more interest in eating vegetables? -- I think only of the DVD and the carefree days when I replaced players when they got dusty.

The tea-time ritual eventually distracts me. It's not a dining table, it's a war zone. Food is rubbed into walls, slipped into shoes. It endures every possible outcome that a meal can, apart from being eaten. Meanwhile, small inanimate objects disappear that may or may have been swallowed. An episode of 24 would have less tension.

But at least it takes my mind off the remote control. Or it does 'til later, when watching a movie with my wife, I spot a surround sound speaker, lurking quietly in a corner. Quietly is the key word here. There hasn't been a peep out of the speakers since the arrival of the Magi in July 2006. I suppose you could say we replaced one surround sound with another.

That surround sound system was also state of the art. The speakers, and this is the only reason they survived, are wall-mounted, the wires are chased -- ie hidden beneath the floor boards -- and the amp was reviewed and recommended by weirdos from all over the world. It sits there now like a Second World War beach defence, a testament to a forgotten world.

My wife senses my sadness: "Would you not just buy yourself a new DVD?" I know she means well but it still ends in tears. I call the shop. They thought I'd emigrated. Once they had me on speed dial.

"A DVD player," my expert laughs. "Not much call for them these days." I hang up.

"Pass me the Sellotape," I tell my wife. "I've just figured out how to stop the DVD tray from opening."

Tune into Tom Dunne on Newstalk 106-108FM on weekdays, 9am to noon


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