Nimbin. Sunday, 1.45pm
Sometimes I get so angry.
I could kick something, but the nearest thing is a toddler with a smile that exposes two teeth and an innocent love of a world that has, as yet, not smashed happiness out of her. That will come…
My world is shattered.
‘Why me?’ I ask no-one in particular, but a nearby bloke with a dozen strands of long grey hair embedded like defiant protesters around the perimeter of a nearly deforested skull, opens his mouth to answer. I shake my head, shutting down any response. Jeez, doesn’t anyone do rhetorical anymore?
I drag my eyes from the mane-challenged bloke and from the happily ignorant kid, and drop them onto my iPad. I press ‘update’. Again.
If I was a Christian I’d say a prayer now. But as a Christian survivor with residual weird habits, I silently entreat the Great App-maker, raise my eyes to the Cloud, and threaten the universal web for a miracle.
The cloud is bunching and darkening, despite blue sky to the north. It may rain. That possibility hasn’t dampened the spirit here at the Phoenix Rising Cafe at the Bush Theatre. People are happily chatting, drinking coffee and playing with their children, as if everything is okay. La-de-da.
Wish I could be like that. Unfortunately, my happiness is in the cyber clutches of an app. And it has betrayed me.
‘I hate you, Audible!’
A nearby woman with blond dreads looks at me, grabs her African free-trade basket, and moves away.
Audible is my favourite app. (Or was…) I have developed a love of listening to lectures about things. At evenings, I like to lie in bed with my iPad listening to some professor rave on about the pre-Socratic philosophers; or about the origin of the universe.
I drift off to sleep with my head filled with this sort of stuff. I don’t need to understand it – or even be awake – I just love to shower in the words like a nymph showers under a forest waterfall… So now I’m an Audible app addict; I can’t sleep without it.
A woman with a plate of salad walks among the tables: “Twenty-three? TWENTY-THREE?”
Over the past few years I have bought many hours of lectures, amassing quite a listening library on my iPad. I have created an aural sleeping tablet.
Last week, I was learning so much about pre-Spanish Mesoamerica. Just when Mayan culture was about to collapse from… the app died from a toxic update.
I’m so angry. And tired. That update has dammed my wordy watercourse and dumped a thousand plastic sentences into the virtual ocean like so much digital rubbish.
Now, a newly arrived update, which promises to fix everything, is flashing ‘loading’.
A man picks up a guitar from a stand on the alfresco stage. As the first chord is strummed, a light rain thrums the tarp. I look away from the heavens (where I know there is no God and doubt there is even a Cloud) and turn my eyes to my table. There, next to a latte and a ticket with ’23’ on it, is my iPad.
I dare a glance. The wheel of wait has stopped. There’s a message!
‘Please, please, please,’ I plead.
The bloke with the culled coif opens his mouth. The woman with the salad looks over her shoulder for a second, then continues back to the kitchen.
After a sleepless week, I need to know just one thing: What happened to Mayan civilisation?
As farmland dried up, warfare got endless and the rich got smug, a great anger was building in the people.
The anger lurks like a buried desert frog waiting for a trigger…
‘Dear Cloud, please…’
The message says, ‘Error! Update failed.’