Want to know something? (Nah, don't bother answering, I'll pretend you do.) I get attached to things - just can't help myself. I'll find myself looking at something and suddenly remember that I've had it for 'x' number of years, and then my memory will return to where and when I acquired it, and I'll realise that I wouldn't want to be without it and am glad it's there. I bet it's sometimes the same for you too, though perhaps not to the degree it is with me, which is off-the-scale.
However, before I go on, let's take a slight detour back to 2013 when I first published the following post, then I'll return to the here and now. Go on, indulge me. And besides, if you had anything better to do, you'd be doing it, so bite the bullet and cast your eyes below.
Take a look at the above Scientific calculator, bought from W.H. SMITH's (or was it WOOLWORTH's?) in Portsmouth Shopping Centre (or was it Southsea?) in February or March of 1985. (The ol' memory is beginning to fail me, I'm afraid. Let's just go with my first impressions - there must be some good reason why they were at the front of the queue.) Amazingly, the original batteries lasted for about 23 years before needing to be replaced, which surely must be some kind of a record. (Much like the 12 inch black plastic disc with a hole in the middle up in my attic.)
I've addressed this subject before, but it always amazes me how having a tangible reminder from a particular point in time brings home one's recollections of the period in much sharper focus than would otherwise be the case. Memories somehow seem dimmer and more distant without a physical manifestation to accompany them. When I look at the above calculator, it's almost as if I'm back in my bedsit room in Fratton, using my newly-acquired SHARP EL-508A to add up my weekly earnings from my freelance work for IPC MAGAZINES in London.
Just think - I've now had that calculator for more than half my life, although sometimes, when I'm lost in dreams of days gone by, it seems as if it's still a fairly recent acquisition. Then it's as if someone's suddenly hit the fast-forward button, and the movie-clip playing in my head of that particular time accelerates to the present day - making me realize, with a start, just how much water has gone under the bridge since those days back in the mid-'80s actually took place.
I'll bet the following has happened to you. You've sat down to watch a movie on TV which you remember seeing being reviewed a couple or so years back when it was doing the rounds in cinemas. "Wanted to see that at the time," thinks you, "so I'll watch it now!" After it finishes, you see the copyright date in the credits and nearly fall off your chair. "1995? No way! It only came out about 2 or 3 years ago!" Go on, admit it - it's happened a few times I'll bet. And you know you're getting older the more often it occurs because, as we all know, time seems to pass much faster the older we get.
Anyway, now that I've suitably depressed you with thoughts of how brief life is, wouldn't it be great if you could punch in a figure on a calculator, hit the subtract button, and somehow suddenly find yourself magically younger by that very number of years? Why aren't scientists working on such a device as I type this fanciful nonsense? If they're not, they should be. I'd be first in the queue to buy one.
Go on, be honest - it's not a bad little post, is it? I managed to make it at least vaguely interesting, which is no mean feat when you consider how inconsequential the subject matter is. However, that's not the point of my present ponderings. No, what I wanted to say is that, a few years back, I had to pack all my stuff away (took months) and store it in the loft in order to enable workmen to put in new radiators and pipes. They required unrestricted access, which they wouldn't have had if I hadn't cleared all the rooms in my house of what was, essentially, mere frivolous ornamentation. The calculator was wrapped up along with everything else, placed in one of numerous boxes, then stored in the attic until all the work was completed.
And most of it stayed up there for months. When I brought some of it down and unpacked it, I discovered that the calculator's digital display screen was no longer working properly. Perhaps something else in the box had been pressing on the pads, b*ggering it up, or perhaps it was the less-than-ideal climactic conditions, but whatever, it just wasn't calculating. And so it remained for - what, 4 or 5 years? - until I decided to do something about it. I'd taken the batteries out to prevent leakage, but it bothered me that something I'd owned for so long was no longer operational.
Of course, I could've just left it and accepted that its span had ended, and contented myself with the fact that, though lifeless, its continued presence was still capable of maintaining my memories of the time it represented. That wasn't enough for me though - I wanted to see it resuscitated to its former fully-functioning glory. So earlier this week I bought another, worn-but-working model of the same calculator from eBay, with the express purpose of doing some transplant surgery. I could've bought one in better cosmetic condition, but I was reluctant to sacrifice an almost pristine item in pursuit of repairing one which displayed signs of age, as that was akin to cutting up a new jacket to repair an old one. I therefore bought one that, visually, looked worse than the one I already had. (Best of all, it was inexpensive.)
I only used what was necessary to repair my own calculator, wanting to preserve as much of it as I could, otherwise there wouldn't be much point in going through with the process. It bothered me slightly that some of the 'internals' would no longer be the actual components the calculator had started out with, but I consoled myself with the thought that the sacrifice was necessary if I wanted it to once again fulfil the function for which it was intended. And besides, the 'new' parts were clones, created at the same time and in the same place as the original elements, so I suppose it really isn't any different to replacing the batteries.
Anyway, my calculator is now restored to full working order and I'm a happy chappie. I press the buttons, and the numbers appear on the screen as in days of old. It now means that - oh, wait a second while I see what this fellow with the concerned look wants. "What's that you say, doctor? It's time to come with you now? Who are these two men in white coats and what's that strange-looking jacket for? Yes, of course I'll come quietly, but I don't really understand what's going on. What have I done? I only fixed a calculator, what's so wrong with that?"
H'mm, I'd better attend to this, Crivs. Hopefully I'll have things sorted out before the next post.