Every now and again I have to remind myself that not all my friends have a computer. When you spend your working day on your computer, and even socialise on chat groups on your computer, those rare trips down the pub to entertain those computerless friends can seem like a trip to a foreign country.
Despite attempts to steer the conversation to TV, or football, or whatever, as soon as I declare that I have a PC, the familiar barrage of questions starts flooding in. “Got any games?”. Yes, I reply. But I then – stupidly – add that I don’t spend much time playing them, and I’m more likely to spend my leisure time on the internet.
Suddenly, jaws open. A glass is dropped. The piano player stops midway through a song and the saloon doors swing eerily in the wind. OK, I’m being melodramatic, but I’ve hardly declared that I’m having a sex change operation and marrying General Pinochet. However, it appears that I’ve just performed character suicide. So – it’s OK on the internet to go shopping, look up the football results or download an infinite number of South Park screen savers, but spend my leisure time there? I may as well just stand up now and write PERVERT on my face in marker pen. All of a sudden and without anything being said, it’s become blatantly obvious that I’m a close personal friend of Gary Glitter.
The questions welling up in the faces of my friends look set to explode at any point. Porn, porn, porn. Do I get it, what’s it like, how much does it cost, can I come back and have a look, oh please, go on, go on, please please please. The only problem is, I don’t get it. Like everyone I’ve seen porn on the net, partly because of curiosity, and partly because you just can’t help it. I’ve typed “Paracetamol” in a search engine before and ended up with pictures of Courtney Cox giving hand relief to Homer Simpson. Now, whenever Friends follows the Simpsons on Sky One I get this terrible shiver down my back – it’s practically wrecked it for me. That said, I have no idea where I would start looking if I was actively trying to find it. So I refuse the offer of my friends coming round and spilling beer on my keyboard saying that I can’t help them. Of course, no one believes me and now they all think the porn I own is so hardcore I wouldn’t even share it with my friends. You can’t win.