The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Old dogs and new tricks!

What a joke that is! I'm talking about my brother and teaching an old dog new tricks but, on an only slightly different level, I guess I could be talking about myself too. I can't say I am particularly interested in technology, don't have to have the latest gadgets and only learn how to use something when I either have to or it interests me. I learned how to use my new sewing machine because it interests me - my iphone - nah, not so much. In fact, the only reason I have an iphone is because the Blackberry I had kept dying on me so I thought I had better "upgrade". As to all the functionalities, I'm not that interested, although I have to admit it can be a bit embarrassing when I am out with friends and we try to set up another date - they all check on their phones and I have to think really hard to remember because my appointments are all written down in my diary! Of course I use a computer extensively for my work and am forever grateful that I know how to use it, but in and of itself, I'm embarrassingly disinterested.

That being said, I positively look like Bill Gates compared to my brother (or both of them, in fact). When his wife died suddenly last year, in addition to being absolutely devastated P was also in the unfortunate situation of "being the one who didn't know where anything was". In fact he told me that one of the hardest things was figuring out such things as where she ordered the heating fuel from and so on, as he had no idea.  I do remember trying to get my ex involved in this kind of stuff but he too just wasn't interested. Every so often he would do his nut about how "someone was obviously draining the bank account" (I guess he meant me) because we had no money, but during our divorce I was able to demonstrate extensively just where all the money was going - and it sure as hell had nothing to do with me! Don't laugh but I also always did our accounts basically on the back of an envelope because I knew how much was going into the bank and I was supposed to know how much was going out. This didn't quite work out when I was married because he was constantly spending and I had no idea what on. Since I am on my own, however, I am pretty much spot on. (On a side note, my friend Steve, who came over from England over Christmas, laughed when I told him I do my accounts on the back of an envelope and have envelopes in a tin under my armchair with all the money divied up for various bills.  He was incredulous that "you have a Swiss bank account and do your accounting on the back of an envelope"!)  Note: it's not that kind of Swiss bank account but yep, that's about the truth of it!

Anyway, back to my brother. When his wife died he didn't have a credit card, barely knew where the cheque book was, didn't have a mobile phone and couldn't use the internet or email.  He was supposed to go to Greece with me the first year after her death but wouldn't book it himself through the English travel agent because "I don't have a credit card and I can't use email"! So I booked it from over here using my credit card and then he wanted to send me a cheque in pounds!!! I told him they haven't used cheques in Switzerland since 2003 (true) and a cheque in sterling was no good to me. Talk about hard work - sometimes he's like pulling teeth!

I used to phone him every week to see how he was getting on and after the first year, when all the "first" anniversaries were over he began to do a little better. He told me that he desperately missed female company and while he has made friends at his widows and widowers club, he misses being able to chat to a woman over dinner and so on. Not that anyone would or could ever replace his wife, but he just wanted some companionship - as do we all I suppose!

Well finally he seems to have met someone who makes him laugh again. She is his age and also a widow. It is in the very early stages and they won't be seeing each other an awful lot since she lives 150 miles away, but so far they seem to be making each other happy.  His new lady friend, M, is also trying to drag him at least into the 20th century technology-wise (she can forget the 21st century I think), so he has now got a phone, can reply to an email as long as you write to him first, and got his first look at Facebook the other day and was stunned to see pictures of his recent trip out to France to visit me. He loved it. And most recently, M has got him turned on to Whatsapp so that the hours they spend on the phone every night are no longer costing them a fortune!

So all seemed to be going along swimmingly - until last night, that is! I had just got into bed to read at 11 p.m. when I get a Whatsapp message from my brother.

P - "that thing I was saying about the shoes, why did you take them, now I have nothing" (or something along these lines).

Me - "Say what?"

P - "I only bought those shoes because I thought they were smart.  Blah, blah, blah"

Me - "Come again? Hey, who do you think you have been chatting with for the last five minutes?"

P - "You, M, of course!"

Me - "Ha, bloody ha. You have been divulging your deepest secrets to your sister since, oh, about 11.05 pm!"

P - "Oh, shit, please please forget we had this conversation. I'm going to take myself off and give myself a good talking to"!

Me - "No worries, it's forgotten already. Night!"

Except I didn't forget it - I just wrote it down here so that I would never forget that conversation!  Tee hee! Actually there was nothing raunchy or super-secretive about the conversation at all (much to my disappointment) but he sure as hell wasn't making any sense to me, until I figured out what was going on when he sent a photo of what looked like an older lady and two younger females (turns out it was his lady friend and her granddaughters).  But - and I'm sure we've all done it - it just goes to show you have to be really careful before you let that trigger finger loose!

Old dog and new tricks!


  1. I had no idea they didn't use cheques in Switzerland, we still use them occasionally in Canada...although we are trying to encourage our clients to pay electronically. I still write about 5 cheques a year to companies that don't take anything else. Hubby used to be a dinosaur with technology but in the 5 years we have had our company he is now teaching social media selling lol. He has over 10,000 twitter followers and each time an apple phone comes out I get his castoff and he buys the newest latest

    1. They still use cheques in France but nope, all done and dusted in Switzerland for over 10 years. And in the end, you HAVE to get used to the new technology (I love internet banking despite my envelopes and tin under the chair)! We'll get him there in the end.

  2. too funny. Well, at least he is trying :). My DH can barely use a debit card at the gas station pay pump. I wrote all our household info, account #'s, passwords, etc down in a computer file and told my DD about it. Even if I tell DH he'll forget I even told him about it. He won't have a clue on how to take care of anything

    1. I wrote all my passwords down in a word file too and have always told my kids that the first place to look is in my filing cabinet under "important stuff"! Yeah, I know that's like "miscellaneous" but I am actually very methodical and everything is really well filed. When I say I do "envelope" banking it's just that I have a scrap of paper with the 10-12 monthly debits I have to take into account. My ex wouldn't have that - it all had to be in an excel file - but he got bored of that after about a week and wasn't entering stuff so I went back to my envelopes. And you are right to trust your daughter it seems. I hate to think what would have happened to my dad - but then again that is a different generation isn't it (that's where I learned about envelopes in tins from - and it works!)

  3. That's really funny about the WhatsApp conversation! My brothers and I used to chat via Google + a few years back but one day one of us added my dad to "the circle" and then another one of us forgot about it and said something about my dad who then got all mad so we all quit Google + because it was too easy to "get in trouble" that way. For a while we were using an app called "Line" to chat too, but we've stopped that too. I think it was too much contact for us, we're not used to talking to each other so much. I'm not on Facebook and don't want to be. We did all get on Instagram and we each post a picture once in a while and we can all "like" it without necessarily commenting and that's nice.

    Nowadays, we're back to mostly "talking" via email, it's simpler :)

    I'm the one who does everything that had to do with finances in our household and if something happened to me, Greg wouldn't know where most of anything is. All the bills are now electronic and come to me. Some of them are paid automatically from our checking account but for most of them I schedule a payment manually, sometimes from our bank account or sometimes from that creditor's website. I have many many logins. A few years ago I wrote the list of everything for him with instructions, but I really ought to update it because nowadays everyone prompts you to change your password a few times a year!

    I'm glad your brother is finding companionship again and seems to be happy. Has he ever met the lady in person? I'm only asking because my dad has been catfished and it's an awful mess because he refuses, despite the enormous evidence, to acknowledge that his online "ladyfriend" is a crook from the Ivory Coast (and probably not a woman either). You have to be super careful nowadays, especially when you're new to the internet, because so many people are waiting to prey on you.

  4. Taking care of the finances isn't difficult is it, but it can be so hard when the "Accountant" dies leaving the other spouse to figure everything out. As for my brother, she's definitely a real person and they have already been up to each other's homes. There was a widows and widowers' group from the Midlands went up to North Wales for a trip (it's very pretty up there). They met up with my brother's group and he zeroed in on her "Brummie" (Birmingham) accent as we are all Brummies. And the fact that she lives 150 miles away means that they will probably only see each other maybe twice a month but that isn't such a bad thing as they both have other interests. Your poor dad though - how old is he? Some of these scammers are very good (though most are not) and I think if someone is lonely they can be very vulnerable. I wrote a post about my experience with internet dating (around July 2015 I think) and I had a scammer pop up as Colonel Bigballs, U.S. Marine Corps. I LOVED it - this (Nigerian) marine could barely spell and in any case I had just got rid of one U.S. marine and I sure as hell wasn't looking for another one! A

    1. Colonel Bigballs?!? Oh my, how I'm laughing! You definitely were the wrong target :)

      My dad is 73 and stubbornly believing that a blonde, big-boobed twenty-something girl fell in love with his out-of-shape, in bad health, lonely old self. When my brother (a cop!) presented him with all the evidence that it was a scam, he contacted "the girl" who told him that "her computer had been hacked so everything on the web is because of the hackers" and he believes it. He's also believing that a Moroccan diplomat is about to deposit 3.8 million euros (if I remember properly) in gold bars in his bank account... my brother (the only one talking to my dad these days) blew up and tried to get him to see what is going on but my dad alternates between saying that he's aware it's a scam and "he's trying to trap them by accepting the transfer and then will go to the police with his findings" and accusing my brother (and myself and my other brother) of all kinds of things. There is nothing we can do to make him see reason and nothing we can do to protect him, short of going to court to ask for guardianship but my brother said we wouldn't win anyway because he's not demented, just dumb. So we're just letting things take their course. It's very frustrating.
      I'm happy your brother isn't being scammed and I wish him a lot of happiness. It's too bad that they're 150 miles apart but maybe, at their age, they also appreciate the privacy and independence they get with that? As you said, they can both have their own interests and live their own lives too. Good for them. I'm still laughing about Colonel Bigballs, though!