Earlier this year I replaced mother's ailing television with an old, but little-used set of my own - A 14" Sony Trinitron, of the cathode-ray variety, out-dated now, but a classic in it's day. Still, it was robust and perfectly functional when delivered; but after only a few months use, it lost it's colour, though leaving a perfectly sharp, monochrome image.
Despite it's age I was surprised to see it fail. It had little use over the past 18 years, but I gave mom the benefit of the doubt and put the colour-loss down to inevitable wear and tear, and not the result of damage inflicted by a frenzied, crazy 91 year old old woman, struggling to cope with the not too user-friendly handset. After only a weeks use, I received a series of phone calls...
"The sound has gone!"
"It's too loud!"
"It's too soft!"
"I can't remove the number from the corner of the screen!"
"There's writing all over the screen, it won't go away!".
And finally,, "The colour keeps disappearing!".
With each successive phone call, and with uncharacteristic patience and serenity on my part, I replied, "Okay mother, don't worry, I'll see to it at the weekend!".
Fast forward to last weekend. I'm at mothers. Mom has been intermittently reading and dozing and I'm sitting at my computer, writing, or at least, thinking about writing. Mom stirs. Sits up, leans towards the nearby coffee-table, and of a sudden, with its characteristic clunk-like sound, the Sony fires up. "At least", I'm thinking, "mom knows where the on-off button is".
"Look!", she exclaims. "It's in colour!". Then adds with a knowing angry sneer, "But it won't last!".
This is the point where, given my experience of mother, you'd expect me to remain mute, to feign total absorption with my computer, but alas...
"I can always get you a new one. The small ones aren't so expensive!".
"NOOOOO! I'm not bothered. There's nothing on. It's all rubbish!".
"Well if it's rubbish and you're not bothered, why all the fuss? What difference does it make whether it's in colour or black and white?"
A pause. A blank look.
And then, with a hint of triumph after a struggle, as if she'd calculated the answer to a particularly difficult mental-arithmetic question, she said, "what if anyone looks in through the window and sees it in black and white?".
All I could do was stare. Unblinking.