Monday, October 09, 2006

Artificial Pets

First there were the tamagotchis. Remember them? A little toy the size of a half a crown and a little creature appeared on the screen and had to be fed. After a few days or a couple of weeks it DIED and the child who owned it got very upset and the whole toy had to be hidden away for good. Every house in the country where there were children eight years or so ago has at least one of these wretched things buried in the garden for future anthropologists to wonder about. Why were these little plastic charms so important that they had to be buried?

You could, if you wished, discipline your tamagotchi as well as feed it and there was a button to press for power-crazed children - or their parents - to do just that. One of my husband's colleagues shouted at his tamagotchi repeatedly to see what would happen. And what happened was it left the screen and never came back. Aaaaaah.

You see? I am feeling sorry for a piece of software. Worrying.

Then there were the Furbees or Furbies or however you spell them. These were furry, rather high-tech versions of talking teddy bears, with a light sensor at the front. They talked with a repertoire of phrases which, believe me, could get quite tedious when you spent a fortnight with one in a caravan in France, which we did. Stephen got so fed up of it that he firstly turned it upside down, whereupon it traumatised us all by crying "Worry! Worry!" Then he stuffed it in a drawer from which its little voice could be heard calling pathetically "No light! No light!"

They were capable of learning extra phrases and you could teach them to a certain extent, though not very much.

Here's ours asleep:

And asleep is where it has been for the last few years, on top of a bookshelf, out of the way.

But a couple of days ago, in a burst of Domestic Goddessness, I dusted on top of the bookshelf, forgetting the Furbee was there.

It came to life in the little cloud of dust, yawned, and then SNEEZED.

I left it to resume its slumbers, and after about half an hour of chatter, it did. It's sleeping soundly now. But I'm a little bit scared. From now on, the top of the bookshelf will remain dusty.


Blogger John said...

Nothing a big hammer can't fix

10:20 pm  

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