Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Technology and Magic

I have been in charge of a Barracuda recently - not the fish but a long piece of hose with a sun-shaped suction extension that's supposed to clean a swimming pool (I imagine it was named after the fish, because they're both long and both hoover up whatever comes in their way). Anyway, like so many so-called labour saving devices, the Barracuda has been a bit of disappointment. In fact, the only thing it has hoovered up in large quantities lately is hours of my time.
The idea with the Barracuda is that you set it off and leave it. Without bothering you, it then makes its own way round the swimming pool, polishing and dusting as it goes. It's a kind of robot really - the watery equivalent of those new round vacuum cleaners that can be trained to do your carpets while you go out.
There is one big difference though: those things work. In fact, they work so well that their owners become as attached to them as they would to a pet. My friend works in a shop that sells them and he says that when one breaks down, the owners don’t want a brand new replacement; they insist instead that their particular model be fixed and returned.
From the experience I've had this week, I will never feel like that about a Barracuda. Unless it’s just that I’ve struck a model that's particularly dim.
The problem is the Barracuda I've been operating doesn't go all around the swimming pool. It goes around a bit, while I'm watching, and then, as soon as I've gone away, it rushes down to the corner of the pool where the step is and just spends the rest of the day nuzzling that. It's hopeless.
And the really peculiar thing is the advice I've been given to fix the problem. According to the pool guy - and as I write this, I feel ever more convinced that he is having a laugh at my expense - when the Barracuda gets into a bad habit like this, it needs to have its memory erased. The Barracuda, it is important to point out, is 20 foot of plastic piping. How can it have a memory? I don’t know. The pool guy doesn’t know. He says it just does. So I have broken the thing up into its component segments and lain them in the sun, as he’s told me to do. In half an hour or so the piping should be completely amnesiac. It’s fondness for the pool step will be gone from its – what? -it’s mind? How can this make sense? I can’t imagine. How do they make planes stay up in the sky?


  1. What wonderful bafflement, Z.

  2. yep, and what a perfectly lovely dilemma to have. Around these parts we've just got a couple of frozen stagnant ponds :(

  3. Hang on, it's supposed to be autumn here and spring there and Nige (http://nigeness.blogspot.com/2010/03/sun.html) claimed it was getting warm - what's this about frozen?

  4. Can't you pay a small urchin to do it for you?

  5. Sadly, urchins have been abolished over here.