Tuesday evening was one like any other. I arrived home from work in the same way I do every night – by foot – and unloaded my bag of groceries onto the kitchen counter. A lemon, a net of oranges, two chicken breasts, a packet of venison grillsteaks, a mango, blueberries and a little gem lettuce. I removed my long black coat from my person, one arm at a time, and hung it on the hook on the back of the bedroom door before I slipped a blue sleeveless v neck jumper over my lilac shirt. Suitably changed into my loungewear I returned to the kitchen and considered preparing my lunchtime salads for the next couple of days. I thumbed through my phone for the Sonos app, hoping for the backing track of Absolute Classic Rock whilst I fried the chicken for my salad; because nothing goes with pepper and thyme like some rhythm and rhyme.
I stood in the cold kitchen oiling my breasts and began to wonder why I wasn’t hearing Heart or ZZ Top or Boston blasting out of the living room. I cleansed my hands and examined the screen of my mobile, finding that it was experiencing some reluctance to communicate with the Sonos speaker. I summoned all of the wisdom in the field of technology that I have gathered over the years and concluded that the best thing I could do would be to disconnect from the WiFi and then re-establish the connection. When this had no effect I was dumbfounded and out of ideas. I walked into the hallway and crouched down to look curiously at the router. The ‘power’ and ‘wireless’ lights were illuminated in the correct fashion, but the ‘internet’ light was like a Smiths song with the Morrissey lyrics but without the Johnny Marr guitar riff – despairingly dark.
There are only a few things I truly fear in life. I dread the idea of going through my entire morning routine – shave, shower, facial cleanse – only to find that I have run out of moisturiser. Until recently I had a deep-rooted suspicion of seafood and could only really tolerate anything that was once contained within a shell, such as prawn, lobster or shrimp. For a while I couldn’t help but feel that the need to draw something out of its shell said something about me sexually, but I have since learned that seasoning a salmon with sea salt and black peppercorns and lemon juice hides almost all of its fishiness and I have become welcome to the idea of other types of seafood. Though despite this foray into culinary adulthood I still find myself checking that my fly is fully zipped up before I enter a room – any room, every time – and it is my gravest fear that I should walk into a bar or an office full of colleagues or the self-service checkouts at Lidl with my modesty threatening the decorum of the situation. Perhaps the only thing I worry about more is losing internet connection, with my daily reliance upon streaming music and television services, and that is exactly the troubling scenario I found myself embroiled in on Tuesday evening.
There seemed to be some kind of a taunting irony in the fact that I should lose my internet connection in the days after I started watching the 1996 set Netflix comedy drama Everything Sucks, and not the unorthodox brand of irony in the Alanis Morissette song which sees a hapless cutlery drawer organisation come back to haunt the protagonist when she can’t find a knife amongst ten thousand spoons. Such a sequence of events is all the more difficult for me to understand these days when I have a cutlery drawer that can hardly hold ten spoons.
With no internet and without access to Spotify and Netflix for my usual evening entertainment fix I was unsure of how to fill the void once I had finished preparing my salad and dining on deer. I sat in the agitating silence of my living room – save for the occasional creak from upstairs or the sound of the air freshener bursting into life every 36 minutes in the bathroom – and reckoned this must have been how life was all the time in the 1990s before we had all of these things to distract us. After some time I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to delve into my bookcase and read Ulysses by James Joyce for the first time, having had my interest in the novel piqued on trip to Dublin last summer. I took a can of Guinness from the top shelf of my fridge – not out of any stereotypical need to supplement Irish literature with an Irish tipple, but simply because Guinness was the only beer I had a supply of – and sat on my brown leather sofa with this classic book in hand. I leafed through the introduction and settled on the first page, where I was met with a description of plump Buck Mulligan’s yellow dressing gown. I read further, briefly, and found my mind wandering to Google. If only I could search: is the tone of Ulysses so difficult to read all the way through? I drank from the can of Guinness. Another query I was unable to make to Google: Why does Guinness not taste as good out of the can? I couldn’t even ask Alexa, the one person I am usually able to talk to in my flat.
I very quickly lost interest in Ulysses when I remembered that as well as books I also own some DVDs. This wasn’t so much the 1990s anymore as a whole new millennium. My collection wasn’t as varied as I had thought and I was confronted with a choice of Annie Hall for the 128th time, Superman for the 97th occasion or an 85th viewing of a Nightmare on Elm Street. I opted for the latter, because there is nothing like watching Johnny Depp being massacred to make a man feel better about himself. Though this 80s slasher flick only raised a further series of queries I longed to put to Google. Is Peppa Pig subliminally coercing toddlers into acts of mischief? Are cats evil? What is worse: cats or Freddy Krueger? Are cats and children able to secretly communicate and if so are they conspiring against the rest of us?
My second night without internet wasn’t any easier an experience. After enjoying Batman for the 31st time I made a nine o’clock trip to Tesco where I bought masking tape, a 5M measuring tape and a packet of ten pencils, having decided that I would begin the task of placing a framed Jackson Pollock print on my wall. I really only needed one pencil for the job, but they came with eraser tips and at the price on offer it seemed like it would have been a mistake not to build a stationery supply. Besides, I suspected that finding the precise spot on my wall where a piece of art should be hung would be quite an arduous task which might require a lot of lead. However, without an internet to guide me on the exercise of locating the middle of the wall behind my couch or to tell me the ideal height for eye level, I gave up on the idea of measuring the wall for a picture frame and instead passed the time by drinking an additional cup of Earl Grey tea to the single cup I often drink in the hour before bed. How did anyone ever perform any DIY – or anything at all – without a wikiHow page?
By Thursday afternoon a BT engineer arrived to finally rescue me from my wireless woe and return me to the 21st century. He tested my phone line and confirmed that the issue I had been suffering since Tuesday seemed to stem from the fact that I had been cut off at the exchange – and not for the first time. He assured me that the problem would be easily fixed and that I would soon have access to the world wide web once again. I felt relieved and asked him if it was possible that a ghost could have caused my internet fault. His brows become furrowed and he asked me what I meant. I shrugged it off and took his response to mean that it wasn’t entirely improbable.