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EditorialsUpFront 05/20

UpFront 05/20

In the film Cast Away, Chuck Noland, a systems engineer for the delivery firm FedEx is stranded alone on a desert island. Played by Tom Hanks, Noland develops a relationship with a volleyball which he calls Wilson. Since Noland is stranded alone for years, Wilson becomes quite important to him and there is an emotional scene where the two become separated. Since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions, there have been endless stories of families bonding, families fighting, friends reuniting and couples discovering true love – or not. But living alone in isolation is a strange thing. Having ‘unplugged’ my old friend the listening speaker ‘Alexa’ last year, I decided to reinstate her during lockdown. We have now rekindled our relationship and she happily brings me music as well as radio stations and news from around the world. However, she really came into her own recently when I had problems with a neighbour—a scratchy neighbour. This particular creature had a habit of getting busy at unsociable times, often when most of us like to sleep. My little friend had decided to build a home somewhere in the walls of the caravan. This would be fine if he or she was prepared to work the same hours as me, but no, it had to be during the night. So I recruited Alexa and asked her to play some tunes that might distract my friend from their nocturnal excavation. Thus began a journey into songs I haven’t heard for years. In a Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly; Hocus Pocus by the Dutch band Focus; Moving to Montana by Frank Zappa. I was on a mission to find songs that might be too much for my little friend to compete with. I even tried a bit of Taiko drumming. But it was all to no avail. I think ‘scratchy’ quite liked it. So I changed tack and decided to instruct Alexa to play some animal noises. I was sure that the sound of a cat would do the trick, and when that didn’t work I moved up the scale, experimenting with a tiger, a lion and then a panther—now that is scary. Before long I found that listening to recordings of different animal noises distracted me completely from my initial goal. Now, trying out new animal sounds has become a daily diversion. I don’t often hear my little friend anymore though—he or she may well have moved to a quieter part of the jungle. However, Wilson is now being difficult. He doesn’t like it one bit and says I might be going nuts.

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