I live under the tyranny of my HP inkjet printer.
The conditions under which it will deign to allow me to print pages are as rare and convoluted as a conjunction of the planets.
It takes me back to the days when I would ask my older sister to do me a favour, unsure whether the response would be a suspiciously syrupy smile or (more likely) an unprovoked act of cruelty and defiance.
The cartridges, at a rip-off cost, have the lifespan of a mayfly and the sensitivities of a prom night diva.
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The six of them show the stroppy solidarity of French baggage handlers – adopting a one-out-all-out philosophy – and they have a unique concept of becoming “out of date” – something that did not bother Gutenberg, who managed to pump out Bibles without fear that his ink would lose its potency at the stroke of midnight.
Tired of this costly whirl of reticence and belligerence, I bought knock-off cheap cartridges for a fraction of the usual inflated price.
I ignored the warnings and threats offered up by my printer and inserted the dirt cheap doubles.
Sadly, this is not a David and Goliath story. Unbeknownst to me, the cheap magenta slowly bled out all over the machine, its works and the blanket box on which the contraption sits, staining the heirloom irretrievably.
I suspect the legitimate cartridges had knifed the scab in the back before returning to a long period of languid disinterest, like a cat slumbering in a sunbeam, its whiskers tainted with illicit sparrow.
TV satirist John Oliver did an excellent piece on the modern day US televangelists who are so blatant in their money raking they not only ask for money for private jets but scold those who are not happy for them when the multi-million-dollar gifts arrive.
They are shameless and scandalous, skipping the dull bits – prayer, pastoring etc – in favour of grasping pleas for cash from the vulnerable and gullible.
Seed faiths (spend money now, reap the rewards later) have no ambiguities, no spiritual dimension, no charm.
Credit card woe? Send us $1,000 and your faith will clear the debt. Cancer? Cough up. Do it now!
Last week I visited a grand cathedral with a friend whose father is sick. He was inspired to buy a candle and say a prayer. There were any number of chapels and any number of stone saints on duty overseeing their own candle-buying franchises.
Once he had bought one candle then two seemed desirable and three became necessary. Ultimately, there was the big-money candle, with a take-home souvenir and a bigger price tag which he could not decline for by this stage his father’s health had become an object shaped solely by his will and wallet.
The cathedral was grand and inspiring. Sun penetrated dazzling stained glass windows illuminating a long nave imbued with grace and certainty. A sense of solace resided in the eternal stone columns and the air was heavy with awe.
This alluring embrace was so comforting I could have easily relinquished my scepticism and sunk into its folds.
But I couldn’t silence the sound of the jet engines warming up on the runway.
Same outcome, different pitch, I suppose.