“And another thing, son … I know you mean well and all that, but you should stop buying us all these techno gadgets as presents!”

“I’m trying to get you to be modern, dad …”

“I don’t know about modern … that compooter you got us. Your mom has hardly used it, she thinks it will blow up if she presses the wrong keys. It takes too much space too …”

“It’s called a computer, not compooter … actually it is a laptop!”

“Laptop? … … Laptop? When I was your age boy the only thing I had on my lap was your young mother. Lovely she was. Admittedly she has put on a bit of weight since then but I’d rather have her on my lap than your confounded machine.”

“That machine is your gateway to the world, dad …”

“Gateway my foot … I don’t understand why people should need the tinternit or whatever it’s called.”

“Internet … imagine it as a link to every computer in the world. You type about something and you immediately get linked to a computer somewhere with an article about what you asked for. It is also great for sending letters instantly to anyone anywhere in the world.”

“And what’s wrong with sending letters like old times? If God wanted us to communicate with each other instantly He would have given us a better Postal service. Instead, in olden times, He gave us epistles written on parchments. St Paul, may he rest in peace, and all of them writers, may they also rest in peace, left us words of wisdom on parchment papers for us to read. In perfect English they were too … They did not write their Gospels on compooters … that’s because they had no electricity then, you see. So they wrote with ink on parchment paper as God intended. Admittedly, He wrote His Commandments on stone tablets. That’s because He wanted them to last longer, you understand. Unfortunately, modern people of today have re-interpreted the Commandments to suit their selfish needs.”

“Very philosophical, dad!”

“Don’t give me none of your lip, boy. And by the way, that telephone machine you got us don’t work.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I answered the phone the other day, a woman’s voice on the machine kept saying we are sorry we cannot take your call please leave a message. Fred who rang us thought he got the wrong number. I told him it was me and he asked me why I had a woman’s voice. He thought I sat on something sharp. I tried to explain but the woman’s voice kept talking over me. So I pulled the electric plug off the wall to shut her up.”

“That woman’s voice was your Out-Going Message. It is what people will hear when they phone you and the machine answers the phone. You must have picked up the phone at the same time as the Out-going Message was playing. Let me show you how the machine works, dad …”

“When I was a young boy my dad used to deliver coal. He was a coal merchant, he was. People phoned him and he delivered coal to warm their house; he used a horse and cart. He had no answering machine. My mom, your gran, used to answer the phone and take the orders for coal. She did not say, your call is important to us, please wait until my husband gets out of the toilet. She took the orders straight away.”

“Anything else you’d like to complain about?”

“Look lad, you’re a good kid, I know. And you like to make us happy with all your technical gizmos. But we’re old fashioned, you see. Take that bedside lamp you bought us …”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s supposed to come on and off every time you snap your fingers or clap your hands. It is sound activated you said. Well … every time I break wind in bed the lights come on. It’s like a lighthouse here some nights. And … it is not very conducive when your mom and I are being friendly … if you know what I mean!”

“All right dad … no more … I can’t wipe out the image from my mind. From now on, no more technical gifts. By the way, for Christmas I have signed you up to the yearly World Foods Club.”

“What’s that?”

“In December you’ll get a box of foods from a country. For example it could be Italy, and the box will contain pastas, tomato sauces, raviolis, salamis and so on …” 

“Oh yeh?”

“And in January you’ll get another box delivered with items from France probably. It will contain frogs legs, snails, French cheeses, that sort of thing.”

“How long will this go on for?”

“A whole year. Every month you’ll get a different box with foods from a different country. Pies from England, stuffed vine leaves from Greece, bratwurst from Germany and so on …”

“You’re mad, son … a whole year of foreign foods. What’s wrong with our own wholesome food?  Better cancel it quick. It’s bad enough me having to put up with your mother’s cooking without her experimenting with something different each month.”

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