Everything breaks


I went for a run this morning, after the baby and the mosquito had both kept me up too late or woken me too early. At five a.m. I’d lain next to my daughter, as she thumped her arm on the bed and drowsily drank away. The constant thumping meant I couldn’t sleep, so I’d pulled on my shorts and hit the streets.

My GPS went mad, deciding I’d started a mile from where we live and running in a quite different direction to where I’d gone. Sometimes it will get a bit confused about location or place me on the wrong side of the road, or jump back and forth, but today it was as though I had run in a different dimension, one that bore no relation to the world we normally live in.

And the scales said that I was half a kilo lighter than the day before, as if a diet of mosquito bites and indigestion remedies was the best way to lose weight. Is it the end of technology?

Out there in the dark, deprived of sleep, I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating. Running past the Merlion, itself a terrifying Singaporean phantasm made solid, I seemed to see a fragment of a bridge being hoisted into the air above the waters of the marina. I turned to peer at it, almost fell down some steps, and turned my back to concentrate on forward motion.

At six, the streets were largely empty. Was this because I was too early for the drunks, or too late, or had they malfunctioned too, just like my watch?

I rushed to work after breakfast. My conference line didn’t work, an automated message telling me that nothing would ever be the same again. Eventually my computer turned on, languid and baffled in equal measure, just like me. I went to microwave my lunch; somebody else had got there first, and was giving a jar of tuna ten minutes on full power.

These are all but remnants of the day, shards of experience that keep floating through my memory. Now I lie upon the sofa and read Andrew O’Hagan’s account in the LRB of working with Julian Assange, and my technical failures are as nothing. And so to bed.


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