The times they are a’changin…

My watch died.

More accurately the strap on my cheap old one snapped and I didn’t want to replace it because a new one would cost more than the watch was worth. So, in essence, it died. Farewell old friend.

For the past thirty years I’ve stared intermittently at my wrist and been greeted by a variety of analogue hands quietly marching forward, relentlessly, towards the future. But this time around I fancied something different. Maybe it was a chance to revisit the devices of my youth….maybe I should go digital?

I still remember the thrill of the first LED digital watch that my cousin proudly showed off when I was about  seven or eight years old. At first glance it was just a black circle with a single silver button at the edge, but when that was pressed red numbers gently appeared and declared the time in their glowing, knowing way. It was almost magical.

'tis witchcraft!

So why not rediscover the wonder?

When you think of it a digital watch is far more useful. After all they usually have stopwatches, lights, calendars, and (if you’re really flash) a calculator. Why have one function when you can have several? It seemed so obvious. The problem came when I actually looked at what was available. Whereas the technology that first left me breathless back in the eighties has evolved beyond recognition, the designs seem to have gone backwards. Either they’re these huge multi-button leviathans that look like something from a 70s sci-fi series starring Martin Landau, or they’re so complex in their displays that I could tell the phase of the moon, how far I’d walked that day, the temperature in Peru, but have no idea what the bloody time was. The simplicity that first beguiled me had been replaced by enough plastic to rival the Academy Awards ceremony.

A symphony of confusion

Another, more troubling, realisation also occurred. No matter how much I reasoned it away, I couldn’t shake the thought that, well, digital watches….they’re for kids.

How had this techno-phobic snobbery been fostered in my techno-loving heart? What possible logic would side with the idea that cogs, gears, and momentum where superior to LCD, micro circuits and computation accuracy? Was I a closet luddite? What would be next? Notepads are better than iPads? Radios finer than TVs? Three month travel by boat is a more gentlemanly way to quest than a one hour flight? Anarchy was but moments away, with my future balanced over an abyss of Betamax, CRT, and Soda-Streams.

I took a deep breath. Then it came…

A vision in retrocity. A memory in physical form. The Casio F-91W.

It also comes in Red, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Orange, and Green!

Oh yes, I hear you say.

Why try to recapture the past when you can, in fact, buy it?

Plus it’s cheap too! £4 on Ebay. Now those are 80s prices alright.

From the first moment I saw it I knew that here was what I was looking for. The wording had such majesty. Water Resistant – it decried! No waterproof for this one, no, it would resist water like Gandalf would resist a Balrog. Of course the odds were against it, but the safety of the ring bearer was of more import, thus the resistance would buy them time…quite fitting for something that exists solely to chronograph the passing of moments into memory.

This was indeed the same watch that I had worn with pride all those years ago. No thoughts of childishness with this one, instead a feeling of childish glee. Plus it has seven different colour backlights, and when set to the right mode they flash one after another.

Now, not only can I wear the digital form once more, but I’m bringing back disco too! Let’s boogie….


Biscuit Etiquette Part 4 – The confection of confusion

As most biscuit appreciators will attest there are certain things you would expect to find when tucking into a choice morsel. One of the most obvious is a crunch in the bite – as we all know soft biscuit equals bad biscuit, hence the need for a well crafted tin in which to preserve the firmity.

It’s with no uncertain trepidation then that we approach today’s subject matter, the mysterious pleasures that exude from that duplicitous of all confection….the jaffa cake.

This way madness lies...

Now I can already hear the emails forming in your heads along the lines of ‘Martyn, have you completely lost your mind?’ ‘What madness is this that you spout?’ ‘A CAKE!!!! a +^!*@£ CAKE in the biscuit section!!!!!’ ‘Increase the size of your manhood with this new pill’ etc., but first hear me out, then at least you can throw me out in the full knowledge of this mania that has taken me its unwilling prisoner.

You see I think we must seriously consider the case of the Jaffa cake. Whereas many would posit that it’s just sponge with ideas above its station, or that the very nature of including a fruit section would place it squarely in the realms of tart, it’s to its testament that the Jaffa still proudly nestles in the heart of the biscuit section in your local supermarket, as if daring you to remove it. In many ways its the Rosa Parks of biscuitdom, refusing to be moved so that another generic packet of digestives can take its place – if you listen carefully sometimes in the quiet of midnight shopping you can almost hear the echoes of ‘We Shall Overcome’ drifting up the aisles.

You see it’s the very nature of the Jaffa’s contrast that earns it a place at the saucer of life. The light sponge base, the orange fruit filling, all sealed in a chocolate covering that sports a whimsical grid-like pattern that seems almost to laugh at convention while gently taking its hand and leading it to the kitchen for the promise of more.

It is the seductress, the confuser, a taste of the exotic that you know is wrong but cannot resist, it is the bi-curious of biscuits which will drag many willingly to their doom and mock them in their destruction.

So step warily to the table that would present the Jaffa, and hold steadfast in the convictions of your mind lest you be caught in its sorcery. The exotic brings unique pleasures, but the cost can be ruinous.

On last thing to remember, another sign of the wicked perversion of biscuitry that is the Jaffa. Just as with Pharaoh’s heart against the nation of Israel, when a Jaffa hardens all hope of mercy is lost.

You have been warned…