Wednesday

Wednesday 2/10/2002Picture the scene of domestic tranquillity chez moi this evening. Goodwins senior (that's me) sitting quietly on the sofa, battling with network settings on his laptop and occasionally unleashing an oath fit to singe a monkey.

Wednesday 2/10/2002
Picture the scene of domestic tranquillity chez moi this evening. Goodwins senior (that's me) sitting quietly on the sofa, battling with network settings on his laptop and occasionally unleashing an oath fit to singe a monkey. Goodwins junior (that's him) sits quietly alongside, battling with monsters on his laptop and occasionally making a strangled sound. Swearing, like spitting at the cat and blowing one's nose on the curtains, is reserved for the alpha male of the organisation (that's me again). But sometimes, Goodwins junior can't help himself. "Oh golly!" he said, simultaneously bracing himself for a well-earned cuff around the ears with a rolled-up copy of ZDNetWeek. But I'm nothing if not a benevolent and loving parent so decide capriciously to give him a chance to justify himself. "Foul-mouthed cur! Why do you besmirch the family name so?" "But father, I was surprised by this strange email from Grandad. It contains an attachment purporting to be a document, but really with a .EXE file extension." Reluctantly, I stay my hand -- although who knows what disgusting liberalism such laxity will instil in the lad? -- and look at his screen. There indeed is an incomprehensible email from my father, complete with worrying attachment. Despite the best efforts of the parochial church council, my priestly dad has yet to succumb to senility so I conclude he's not really the source. We set to work, and soon ascertain that the Reverend Goodwins has been infected by this week's star worm, Bugbear. It's late, but not too late to alert the afflicted cleric. We phone Cambridgeshire. "Oh yes," he says. "I got it from the Bishop of Ely." And your antivirus software, father? Ah. Trust in the Lord. I remind him that even the Pope has bullet-proof glass in his Popemobile, and set about concocting a solution. My father, despite his many fine attributes and great fondness for technology, is not entirely at ease with computing. I do my best to wrap up one of the anti-Bugbear programs with some guidance in an email, but some time later it's clear that it hasn't worked and we're wandering deep into that forest of mutual frustration, the Father-Son Tech Support Phone Call. I send Richard out into the night, ostensibly to purchase some moonshine from the dodgy late night grocers next to the crack cocaine dealer in the Holloway back streets, but in truth because what I have to say to my father is not for sensitive young ears. Alas, despite my manifold imprecations and summonings of the Dark Lord Williamensis Gatesii, we're not getting very far. And it's midnight. In the end, I'm forced into an action I've long resisted. I send the Reverend Father a copy of remote control software VNC, which by dint of being exceptionally well written, easy to use and free soon gives me access to his desktop over the Internet. It then takes me a couple of moments to delouse his computer and bid the man goodnight. Next stop: the Bishop of Ely. Not being bound by family ties, I feel free to act as I wish in this case. When Richard returns, I shall get him to refuel the Scud I keep in the spare room: meanwhile, it's time to program its navigation system with the co-ordinates of a certain cathedral.

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