I’m 32, and from the age of around 5 or 6 when my mum and dad bought me the rubber-keyed ZX Spectrum 48k I have had a computer near me. My early days were spent loading up games from cassettes that seemed to take forever to load, the screen’s edges changing from an up-and-down slow-scrolling red and cyan thick-striped theme to a yellow and dark blue thin-lined theme.
The 48k computer was fantastic, though even at such a young age I knew the rubber keys were a bad idea on a computer. A few years later I upgraded to a Spectrum +2 (128k), which had a built-in tape player and a hard keyboard. I’ve no idea how I convinced my mum to buy the newer model when it essentially did the same as the old one, but I dare say I muttered something about there being some games that needed 128k memory to run. The games, incidentally, were mostly £1.99 each at most and what they lacked in graphics and a terrible tinny sound, they made up for in gameplay.
When I turned 11 and started senior school the Atari ST came out. Within a few months I was introduced to the system as well as the notion of piracy, with other kids in the class all getting similar machines and swapping games. By Christmas I had an Atari STE myself and that lasted me the best part of about 8 years before I finally upgraded to a PC, thanks in whole to the Woolwich selling out and giving me £1,500 worth of shares, all of which went to buying a top-grade pc, printer, monitor and other bits I’d probably never use. That was 1997 and I got hooked up to the internet, then just a growing intrigue rather than a worldwide boheamoth that is used by everyone as it is today.
In between having these "proper" computers, I also had my fair share of gaming systems. A old cartridge-using Atari, a Sega Megadrive, a Nintendo GameBoy, A SNES, a PlayStation, a PS2 and a couple of years ago an XBox 360. Earlier this year I added a Nintendo DS. All were used with a fair amount of regularity, despite the games for each one costing the earth.
Leaving school in 1996 and getting some money in my pocket through work, I got my first mobile phone shortly after. Although I very rarely used it, and it being a brick of a thing (Motorola, possibly? Maybe an old BT cellnet phone), it was in the days pre-text messaging, so all it did was make and receive calls. I then inherited a mobile through work at Crown Security and once I had one from them I tended to make more use of it, to the point that when I left there in 1999 I decided to go and get my very own phone again. One of the main reasons for choosing the phone that I did at the time was simply that it had a clock on it. Again, standard fayre for today, but unusual back then. In fact, it was a flip phone, and on the part that flipped open I had a small print out sellotaped with a list of commonly used names and numbers, as the phone itself had no address book function. The memory on it was tiny. I had the same phone ten years ago (to the day!) when Charisma was born, and as I texted people the news, I had to delete the incoming congratulation texts as it would only hold ten texts at once.
Now I have an all-singing, all-dancing iPhone, which does everything I’ve always wanted a phone to do. It plays music, stores photos, even makes phone calls!
So in answer to the question, I’m not sure I’d want to do a week away from everything like that. Computers and mobiles have gone hand in hand with my growing up. I certainly feel lost without a phone, with itchy fingers. I get bored easily and the phone allows me something to do. Equally I use a pc every day, whether it’s at work or at home. The idea of seven days with none of the above terrifies me.
A week I could probably handle. I wouldn’t want to, but it’s a short amount of time. Any more than that and I’d probably go mad. But for now, £1,000 for a week with no pc, phone or similar sounds reasonable, if not a little cheap. But then there is a recession on. At least there was the last time I checked online.