Old Bill was hunched over his computer.’ What sort of computer is it?’ asked Rodney.

‘It’s a Dell, boy,’ answered Bill gruffly as he struggled to finish writing his new play.

‘Is it working well? asked Rodney, who was itching to get his hands on it so that he could see how good it was.

‘It’s not three bad,’ said Bill. ‘It has a couple of problems in that the RAM is too small – it was born too early – and the floppy disc drive has a major problem because plastic hasn’t been invented yet so I have had to make do with  a wooden disc to store all my scripts. This is a bit slow but it works OK but when I put them in my store, they get damaged by woodworm.

‘Why don’t you pop down the road to Pig’s Crate World and see if they have a new one on special offer?’

‘No I’ve tried that but they tried to flog me an apple instead of a computer and my mate Newton says that they keep dropping off the tree. I asked about the new windows but they said that was expensive because of the window tax.’

‘I’d have one of those new apples, they’ve got a new core processor that runs really fast. I know that apples aren’t the only fruit but they are a lot better than that undercooked  raspberry Pi I tried.’

‘Well, if you’re so clever, why don’t you have a go at fixing the spell checker on this thing?’

‘Why, what’s wrong with it?’

‘As things are a bit slow in the playwriting business, I’ve been taking commissions from shops to write some adverts for them. Look at this one; I tried to write a slogan for a camping shop to stick in the window to advertise his winter sale. It came up with the strap line,”Now is the winter of our discontent.”

‘What’s wrong with that?’ asked Rodney.

‘I wrote; “Now is the winter of our discount tents.’ How can you work with a machine that screws up all your writing?’ asked an exasperated Bill. ‘I also had a commission from a shopkeeper who sold winter clothing, I wrote; “Many are cold but a few are frozen”. The computer said, “Many are called but few are chosen”. I ask you, what does that mean?’

‘I tell you what,’ offered Rodney. ‘Let me have the computer for about 12 hours and I’ll check it over, upgrade the RAM, install a new hard drive and upgrade the operating system to Windows 2.1. Then you should see big difference in performance. I can get the upgrades cheap at ITEA, as long as I assemble them myself.’

‘OK,’ said Bill, ‘I don’t understand what you are talking about but I’m willing to give it a go if you think it will help, but will it sort out the spell chequer?’

‘Should do,’ said lying Rodney. ‘I’ll shut it down and take it back to my workshop in Silicon Alley.’

‘OK,’ said Bill. I’ll see you back here tomorrow with my “good as new computer.”. Thanks Rodney.’

They had a quick high three and then Rodney was off.

Bill spent the evening laboriously writing out the script for his latest advert for a shopkeeper in Venice who sold organic bailers for dinghies. “ Just one corn…” he hadn’t got very far. He was sure he had script writer’s block. He segued off into thinking about a song about angling. He enjoyed fishing.  I’m sure you know the tune. “I’ve been fishing for seal but I’ve just caught an eel – it’s a moray.”

It was getting dark, well, it was the winter’s tail so he blew out the candle, put his quill back on the goose and laid his head down for the night – hoping for dreams of a new play.

The sun was lighting up his studio, the lark was pottering around the kitchen so he thought he had better get up. He joined the lark in the kitchen and thoughtfully sipped his jug of ale – coffee hadn’t bean invented yet – as he spooned up lumps of weety bikkies. He had a dreamed of a new play, a romance between two young lovers, Alfa Romero and Juilietta Bugati.

While he was waiting for Rodney to turn up with rejuvenated ‘puter, he whiled away the time by writing the play in his head. He had just got to a balcony scene where Miss Bugati was wondering where Mr Romero was, when Rodney rushed in.

‘Is that my computer?’ demanded Bill.

‘Indeed my lord,’ said Rodney eager to please, and get paid.

‘Demonstrate then,’ demanded Bill.

The computer was set carefully on the table, plugged into the wall paraffin socket and switched on. They spent the next two hours kicking it as they knew that all computers had to be booted. Eventually it woke up and asked for a password. ‘What is your password my lord?, asked Rodney deferentially – he knew what the answer would be…

…After waiting on the phone for 37 minutes listening to “hey, Nonny no” many times, they eventually heard a human voice. ‘Hello Microsoft help desk, how may I be of service to you this fine, sunny morning?’

‘I’ve forgotten my password and I need as new one.’

‘No problem,’ said the cheery voice, ‘ just log on to our web site and follow the instructions.’

‘How do I log on when my computer won’t work without a password?’ asked Bill in a dangerously reasonable voice.

‘That’s what we call the windows paradox. When you most need your computer, you have no way of making it work… except by giving microsoft a shed load of shekels, err that’s techy slang for money, by the way.’

‘How much,’ asked Bill through clenched teeth.

‘Well it roughly equates to a pound of flesh, we don’t accept any blood or debit cards of course.’

‘You can take as much of Rodney’s flesh as you like it,’ he said, ‘Just make sure you take it accurately, measure for measure.’

‘I’m still here you know’ said an aggrieved Rodney.

‘Look upon it as a super fast diet plan,’ suggested Bill.


The jovial banter was ended, the bill had been paid by a reluctant William – in other words, Bill paid the bill with Rodney’s flesh.

The computer was now working, windows were open, the birds were singing so Bill asked the Word program to open.

‘OK’, it squeaked, and opened. Oh the wonder of it!

‘Why don’t you type in your latest slogan and see what it does,’ suggested a lean, bandaged Rodney.

Bill did so.

‘Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo.’

‘Merde,’ said Bill – he was proud of being a polyglot. ‘ That’s not right, it should be:

“Alfa Romero, Alfa Romero, what art there is in an Alfa Romero.”

‘I’ll be a laughing stock in all Italian car showrooms. I’ll never get a play on stage anywhere on the globe now.

© Richard Kefford                                                                                                        Eorðdraca


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