Reluctantly abandoning San Francisco on Sunday evening -- and not without incident, as something about my person sets off the security scan at the airport and I have to remove shoes, belt and practically everything else -- I stumble out of Heathrow at 11 a.m. on the Sunday. The usual sillinesses of transatlantic travel have taken place: we make up half an hour on the crossing only to be stuck in the hold for three-quarters of an hour over Norfolk.
It's a sorry picture of a man who turns up in the office in the afternoon. In my absence, the place has been thoroughly reorganised, and my seat has moved to a brand new spot by the window. My gear is beautifully arranged in a series of inchoate heaps, and I must rebuild that work in progress commonly known as my desk.
This is silly. I've spent the past five years going on about how wonderful is wireless networking, and reviewing laptops with fantastic video, audio and everything else all built in, and here I am, threading network cables, sound leads, mouse tails, printer cables, keyboards and heaven knows what else. Two computers mean somewhere around 20 leads -- two alone for my 'cordless' mouse and keyboard combination.
What's gone wrong? Why isn't everything but the mains courtesy of Bluetooth, ultrawideband and 802.11g? It's not as if I've got any coordination or cognition left after being impounded at 37,000 feet in a tin can for 11 hours, but I've said enough good things about all this technology to have earned a break.
Everything's finally plugged in. The monitors light up. "CANNOT LOCATE HARD DISK" says one. "PLEASE INSERT DISK AND PRESS ANY KEY." The other gets as far as the Microsoft XP loading screen before freezing solid. Welcome home, Mr Caine.
I just have time to think of the hippy chicks on Haight Ashbury before lapsing into a coma.