I’ll admit it – I’m not really good with technology. I can’t turn on the TV without assistance. I’ve been known to ask four-year-old children how to use my mobile phone. Even turning on the lights poses a problem on certain days (up or down – I can never remember which it is.)
Not surprisingly, I’m also baffled by technological jargon. I have no idea at all what Skype is. When people speak about Twitter, I assume they’ve developed a sudden interest in bird-watching. And I find references to ‘burning’ CDs frankly alarming.
I still remember my astonishment when a mild-mannered friend informed me that he had just burnt his girlfriend’s entire music collection. ‘Oh my god, why did you do that?’ I asked in concern. ‘Did you have some kind of fight?’
He looked at me blankly. ‘Um no.’
‘Well, isn’t she going to be angry when she finds them all ruined?’ He stared at me for a few more seconds then broke into gales of helpless laughter. I wondered if perhaps he’d burnt the CDs in a poorly-ventilated room and breathed in some type of noxious chemical fumes.
(There was also another upsetting incident which I try not to think about where I was asked to rip some files for an important client at work. ‘A-ha, a security threat,’ I cannily intuited. Always one for thoroughness, I decided to shred the hard copies rather than simply ripping them up (far more secure.) Then just to be extra safe, I deleted all existing versions of the soft copies. I’m still not quite sure why they fired me.)
Anyway, up until a few days ago I was completely unfamiliar with the term ‘meme’. I’d heard the word thrown about in conversation of course, and had nodded as if I knew what it meant, then immediately gone home and looked it up. According to Wikipedia, a meme was a ‘postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.’ A postulated unit? Inimitable phenomena? What sort of vague definition was that?
The cat’s explanation was no clearer: she defined it as ‘a pervasive thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means; a parasitic code or a virus of the mind .’ What on earth…? Perhaps I’d been inoculated against this so-called virus.
Anyway, I promptly wrote ‘meme’ off as one of those complicated terms only understood by tech-heads (like ‘modem’ or ‘photocopier’) and resumed reading my illuminated manuscript.
And then I came across a post from one of my favourite bloggers, Litlove. She was writing about her top 10 fictional best friends; I quote, ‘a fun meme that I saw at The Broke and the Bookish.’ Intrigued, I clicked on the link above and found links to dozens of other blogs where people gave their own lists of top best friends. And all of a sudden I got it. The universe cracked open before me. I understood what a meme was.
I immediately called a friend who constantly derides me for my lack of technological skills (‘You’re not a Luddite,’ he once commented. ‘Luddites are like Bill Gates compared to you’ .)
‘Hi,’ I said brightly.
‘Oh, hey,’ he said. ‘What’s hap –‘
‘I can’t talk now – I’m working on a meme,’ I snapped, then hung up before he had the opportunity to express his admiration.
So here you have it, my first foray into the magical world of memes….
MY TOP 10 FICTIONAL BEST FRIENDS
- Clarissa Dalloway from Mrs Dalloway – a charming, gracious woman – and she throws the most wonderful parties!
- Sherlock Holmes – It would be fantastic to visit him at his club, sipping port, eating kippers on toast and sinking into an enormous chesterfield. I’ve always been a sucker for men of intellect – and his superior deductive skills would keep me modest.
- Mr Bones, from Timbuktu – down-to-earth, friendly and heartbreakingly loyal, Mr Bones would be great company when you don’t feel like talking. And this little dog could do with a friend himself…
- Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility– Elinor seems to be one of the more popular choices for this meme – and why on earth not? Reserved, stoic, and a woman of her word, Elinor is a friend that you could really confide in.
- Rebecca Davitch from Back When We Were Grown-Ups – I love all of Anne Tyler’s characters – they’re warm, humane, delightfully flawed, and good without being boring. Each of them has a type of quiet radiance, managing to infuse ordinary suburban life with the faintest touch of whimsy and magic. Rebecca, a fifty-three year-old woman who discovers she has ‘turned into the wrong person’, is one of my favourites.
- Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones’s Diary – a good friend for when you need a girl’s night out. Funny, self-deprecating and endearingly klutzy – but certainly not a bimbo – Bridget would be the perfect person to drink bucketloads of red wine with and commiserate with over being 30+ and still not married.
- Frannie from In the Cut – Frannie is a character I can identify with: a self-contained single woman who is bookish but not frumpy and loves words. It would be a short-lived friendship, however…
- Janet Deakin from Drylands – Janet is an affirmed booklover, an acute observer of life, and an Australian (sometimes only a countryman – or woman – can understand…)
- Jack and the Cat from Milli, Jack & the Dancing Cat– bringing with them the gypsy lure of faraway places, this cheerful pair of vagabonds would be perfect for cheering you up when you’re feeling depressed (I challenge anyone not to smile at a marmalade cat doing the ’tricky-twisting-backward-slide-four-step.’)
- A witty, flamboyant Oscar Wilde character to be fabulous with.