THE trouble began when my friend Ricardo used Facebook to ask whether anyone had a DVD player to spare.
I swivelled my office chair around to gaze at the enormous wall unit – 4 metres across – that occupies a sizeable part of our lounge. Somewhere, within its many nooks and crannies, I knew I had “plumbed in” a DVD player that became redundant when I bought a far better one that sits under the base of our TV.
But where was it? Ten minutes later I found it buried beneath a collection of books and DVDs in a cubbyhole, and I tried to slide it out. It wouldn’t budge. Exploring the area behind it with my fingers, I realised that four cables were making it immovable.
What were the cables attached to? I hadn’t the foggiest notion. The only way to find out was to move the entire unit away from the wall – no mean feat as it weighs a ton and I was alone in the apartment at the time.
Common sense told me to wait for my husband Marcus’ return from a night on the tiles. But impatience – a characteristic of mine – insisted that I should attempt to shift it on my own. This was at one o’clock in the morning.
By 1.15 am I had shifted it enough to expose a veritable bolognaise of wires and cables plugged into at least three extensions leads and four adapters. I could see that three of the cables of the old player led to the TV, but could not, for the life of me, see where the power cable led to.
The only thing to do, I decided, was to start yanking out all the power plugs I could lay my hands on.
Naturally, it was the very last plug I pulled that allowed me to slide the old DVD player out.
By the time I’d got all the wires untangled and plugged back in, it was 2.30 am and I was not in the best of moods.
The following day I messaged Ricardo to tell him that he could have the thing.
“Oh thanks,” he replied, “but someone’s already given me one.”
You’d think that that by now someone would have come up with a way of combining yards of separate wires into a single cable. But no. If you’re not connected via Bluetooth or Wifi, you’re stuck with connections that go all the way back to the invention of electricity.
Ten years ago, in a bid to be free of at least one cable, I bought an early generation wireless printer, and spent hours trying to get it to “speak” to my iMac. I kept getting a “cannot find printer” message. Exasperated to the point of madness, I pointed the screen at the printer and screamed “There it is, you &%@£* moron!”
To my astonishment, a “found printer” message then popped up on my screen, so I typed an exceedingly rude limerick and hit the print button. Nothing happened.
I then bashed out a string of swear words that would make a fishwife turn crimson, and hit the print button again. And again nothing happened. I gave up and went to bed seething.
The following morning I bumped into my next-door neighbour who was biting her lip and looking anxious. “I think I’ve got a poltergeist,” she said. I lifted a quizzical eyebrow.
“At around 2 am,” she explained, “I heard a noise and when I checked I saw that new my printer had come to life and spewed out a string of the filthiest words I’d ever read.”
“That’s weird,” I replied, adding, “Oh, is that the time? I’ve got a bus to catch.”