Anyone who believes that we are some way from developing artificial intelligence is clearly deluded, for computers have long been able to tell how urgently a task needs to be completed and, upon such realisation, throw up a long list of technical issues throwing said task well into overtime. In order to download a track from iTunes for the purposes of a lecture I have had my card details described as invalid (they later transpired to be spot on), my computer denounced as unauthorised (the only one on which I run iTunes), my network described as having no response (while emails came and went merrily in the background) and so on and so on. I take no part in the big Apple vs. Windows playground taunts, mainly because anyone who believes that they are not as bad as each other seems to be rather misguided.
As I wasted an entire morning trying to spend 79 pence on this track I thought back to days prior to email, wondering how people ever managed to get by without it. Well, we did, and we managed well enough without junk mail and constant invitations from Virgin Media as well. I praise Sibelius in the midst of this quagmire of nonsense because, from my own experience, it appears to be quality-led. Only yesterday I found out yet another aspect of the program which will make my life much easier, all through removing one tiny tick from an options box. Let’s also mention OpenOffice, while we’re at it. I use it for this blog and many other things, and it’s free. Worth every penny, too.
The hours I spend wrestling with computers, websites who will not accept an apostrophe as a legitimate character in a surname – presumably why Waterstone’s are about to become Waterstones -, cold callers and goodness knows what else all take time away from my writing, and I resent it. I am warming to the idea of removing myself from digital contact when I come to retire, retreating further into childhood, for I believe strongly that technology should be slave, not master. Those adverts on the Tube which say “Take the office with you wherever you are!” make shivers run up my spine.
I did squeeze some notes onto paper yesterday (‘paper’ is an presumably an old-fashioned laptop, for those who can’t remember that far back) for my new anthem, but it is very much in the ‘ideas’ stage, and not much of it fits together very well, but it is early days. I also sorted out and sent off a competition entry, and have recently returned from a meeting with some choir members about a position which may or may not become vacant in the future. I am hoping to get some more writing done today, as I would hate to lose the thread of what I have jotted thus far.
Britten, Brahms and Elgar used to work in the mornings, and then take the rest of the day off, but I can’t imagine Brahms nipping to Sainsbury’s for cat litter, doing the recycling, taking an old TV to the tip and then popping to Homebase for some paint. Any one of these activities can easily take more than an hour, and it is sometimes hard to tell whether I am a composer who fits other things in around that, or just an ordinary chap who composes in what spare time is left. Without a doubt, though, technology has made a composer’s life much easier, and I am utterly certain that my journey thus far would not have occurred without it. It is when the mundane tasks take so long that things can be utterly frustrating, such as getting one’s refund out of one’s oven suppliers (arrived yesterday, at last, thank you very much). That, though, is enough venting for today.
More on the new commission before downing tools tonight, then, and at least there is another competition entry sitting in an inbox somewhere, another iron in the fire. The key is to plough on through the inconveniences, whatever they might be, and not to stop trying. At times like these I turn to Ed Reardon’s Week, quite the funniest thing on radio for many a year (available on, ahem, iTunes), with a main character who, like me, sees the benefits in applying for a restraining order on Virgin Media. Ed would have something to say about Waterstone’s’ decision (or should that now be Waterstones’ decision?), so tonight I think I shall indulge myself in listening to the exploits of another curmudgeon, mon semblable, mon frère.