AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this story in 1986 and sold the original
rights to a well know women's magazine. It's attitudes may appear
somewhat dated now, but I feel that it may be of interest as it
supplements my "Early Days" articles. For legal reasons it must
remain copyright (c) 1986 & 1994. I should also point out that
although it is written in the first person it IS purely fictional.
My wife doesn't understand me. Now, don't get me wrong. We have a
very happy marriage. Well, only two rows in thirteen years seems
pretty good to me. (Actually, three, if you count the business with
the dog and the icecream and the deckchair, but we needn't go into
that here.) Anyway, as I was saying, my wife doesn't understand me,
or rather she doesn't understand my computer which is much the same
"Love me - love my computer," I said one evening, thinking to lighten
Now you know how it is - sometimes as soon as you've spoken you know
it was the wrong thing to say. It nearly started another row,
actually, so I beat a hasty retreat to the COMPUTER ROOM. (In her
ignorance Anne still calls it the BOX-room; which is what it used to
be called before I saw the light.)
In the Dark Ages of my life, or B.C. if you like (Before Computing),
I was known to do what I now realise were rather pointless things
like playing golf, fishing and having the occasional pint with the
boys on Sunday morning. Anne used to complain about my absences -
which, when added to my time at work meant that she did not have the
pleasure of my company very often. Of course, I now see that my
lifestyle could have been considered rather selfish, but how can that
be said about the NEW me? Apart from the Computer Club evenings on
Tuesdays I never go out without her. And even then I'm home at 9.15
with my only drink a harmless cup of tea. Funny thing, on the whole
Computer Club members tend to be a very abstemious crowd - probably
because one needs to keep a clear head when ridding the Galaxy of
Argons. I did persuade Anne to go to the Club with me one evening but
she came away muttering something about "little boys playing games."
Obviously a reference to our Junior Section. And that's another
thing. As I pointed out to her, it's almost like being a Scout
Master, helping the little chaps to gain experience of the World and
the Universe. We encourage them sometimes of course, by letting them
win. It makes them feel good. (As a matter of fact, I didn't actually
intend to let that ten-year old beat me by quite so many as 7035 to 9
when playing Zargon Space Pirates. I think there must have been
something wrong with the floppy disc.)
Then again, Anne didn't seem to entirely understand about the
advantages of buying a printer to attach to my computer. I had, of
course been preparing the ground for some weeks. Pointing out that
the typewriter was probably fifty years old and on it's last legs.
Casually drawing attention to the article in the Sunday paper on the
rapid spread of word-processors. Just happening to mention that ICI
reckoned that they had saved 20 million pounds last year on office
automation. Subtle stuff like that. It didn't seem to make a very
great impression. When I arrived home with the printer and a big box
of paper there was a distinct chill in the air. Of course it COULD
have been a coincidence that the only thing I could find for supper
was the cold rice pudding.
Anyway, back to my main point. Now that I am at home so much, why
isn't she satisfied? Yes, I do spend some (well O.K., quite a lot) of
my time in the COMPUTER ROOM but I'm THERE aren't I? And yes, it WAS
3.15 A.M. before I finished writing the program to work out what we
owed the milkman, but that did have a practical use. And I still
maintain that it was not my fault that he did not have change for
0.334 of a penny. Look at what some husbands are alleged to get up
to. Are they really fishing when they say they are? And golfers could
be anywhere. As for potholing or rock climbing, well I ask you -
completely out of touch for maybe days at a time. No, what is needed
is a nice quiet hobby that can be done at home. I feel sure that one
day wives will begin to see that computers make for a happy and
contented home life. It's just a question of us husbands being
patient and one day they will realise that far from being
time-wasters, we computer programmers are the forerunners of a new
generation of happy partners.
POSTSCRIPT. Hearing the printer working on the above article, Jeremy,
our one and only child, has come into the COMPUTER ROOM to
investigate. He picks up the paper from the floor (why does it ALWAYS
do that!) and reads what I've written.
"Dad, you keep saying here 'my' computer. Strictly speaking, you only
borrow it, don't you? I mean, it was MY Christmas present, wasn't
I am staggered. It is the first interest he has shown since three
weeks after Christmas. That was when he got the maximum possible
score on the Aliens Attack game and immediately lost interest.
"W-e-l-l," I say cautiously, "technically, I suppose you're right.
But on the other hand - "
"Yes, I know Dad. But if I was to sell it I could get the new
mudguards and the speedometer and Mum says - "
I am horrified. SELL it! - MY (well, OUR) computer! And the printer
is useless without it! Then I notice that Anne 'happens' to be on the
landing and observing....
Well, after a great deal of searching of the local paper for
secondhand computer prices, and some hard bargaining, we arrive at a
settlement and I buy the computer from my son. Now it's mine, MINE.
Wait a minute, though. Since Jeremy is legally a minor, it WAS mine
anyway. And in any case I paid for it in the first place. But, I've
just bought it! Hang on. There's something wrong somewhere.... Either
I've bought it twice or.... No, that's not right.... I gave it to
Jeremy, and then.... Oh well, perhaps the computer can work it out...