Alexa-When Will You Take Over The World?

My wife bought me one of those Echo Dot gadget thingies for my birthday. You know, one of those hands-free things you can instruct to perform various things for you, such as playing particular songs, tell you the time, etc.

Yes-that’s as far as I’ve got at the moment. Technology is not my forte.


All of a sudden, there’s another presence in the house. When my daughter is telling me how to address it, she turns her back on it, whispering, as though it is listening in to her. Does it watch us as we pass?

My son, James,  bellows at it like a sergeant major: “ALEXA, WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE IN MANCHESTER?” 

Of course, we live in Manchester. But perhaps Alexa knows better.

I feel all self-conscious when I hold a conversation with it, my manners kicking in. When it does what I’ve asked it to I can’t help but say thank you.

If you was to look on my daughter’s phone you’d see a video that she made, giggling and whispering upstairs on the landing. “I’m about to annoy my Dad.” She then shouts down the stairs: “Alexa, sing a song,” and you’d hear me shouting ” Piss off Millie!” in exasperation as Alexa starts singing a nursery rhyme during a crucial moment in the tv programme I’m watching.

This morning, while it was just the two of us, I thought I should try and make an acquaintance of him. Or her. It. Perhaps Alexa is gender fluid.

Even though we’d already had a formal introduction, we needed to familiarise ourselves with each other. My attempts fell on deaf ears. Or speakers.

Several times I was pointedly ignored, greeted by silence every time I requested The Beatles’ White Album.

Then James emerged, clutching his schoolbag, to witness my one-way conversation. “Dad-it’s not called Siri, it’s called Alexa.”

Siri is the name of another hands-free gadget thingie my friend has in his car. I’d been calling mine by the wrong name. It looked like it was quietly fuming. Siri; Alexa. Maybe they were cousins.

“Alexa,” the disc lit up in response, “do you know Siri?”

“Only by reputation.”

The reply was instant. I was sure I could detect a certain tone, a nuanced knowing.

 “Only by reputation.”  I think if Alexa came with eyebrows one of them would have been raised.

I’ve read enough sci-fi to know that we are on that road now. This is just the start. Next there will be Replicants. And Cyborgs. And toasters that know better than you just how you like your toast. Burning it black every time you get its name wrong. A technological wonder, but a very jealous mistress.

The Jackdaw Flies And Then Roosts

Well, this should have been a post about markers and anniversaries.

About how City Jackdaw has now been flying for six months, and about how my last post was my 100th post. You know the one-that deep, meaningful, reflective piece about the crow carrying a takeaway tray. I am still expecting to make several short lists for that one.

About how fast it has gone, and how I had no idea how it would develop. About how I had no pre-concieved ideas for it, and it just developed naturally, organically. Being a big reader, I thought the books that I read would feature, but it hasn’t turned out that way.

I was going to suggest how our blogs could be an extension of ourselves-hinting at parts of our personalities that are sometimes on show, sometimes buried. Particularly in the case of those who blog anonymously.

I think mine does occasionally reflect my interests and my traits. Sometimes humour, sometimes curiosity, sometimes a sense of spirituality, or a search for meaning, sometimes a glimpse of family life. And often, for balance, pathos.

I was going to go into all of this and more in this post, but relax-you have been saved.

The best laid plans of mice and men. Pride comes before a fall. And any other pearls of wisdom you care to aim my way.

I have lost my internet connection, my telephone line is defunct. I am now sat in the local library writing this, that great bastion of education and escapism. (And really people-use it or lose it, they are closing all the time). I knew I had people waiting for me to reply to their comments, waiting for the next Jackdaw post. Really-I can see you all there, perched on the end of your swivel chairs, poised in front of your screens in frustration-

Where is he? How long has it been? How will he ever be able to top the crow with the kebab house takeaway tray? How do you follow something like that?

I am just letting you know that I am still around, but I don’t know how long it will be until I have full internet access again. I am off to report it now-but you lot came first. See the responsibilty I feel for you all?

Spare a thought, though,for a social animal like myself-I have been unable to Google search, Facebook chat, WordPress post, or anything. It is like living in the Dark Ages.I may have to resort to knocking on people’s doors.

Pray for me, please, pray for me.

(Oh-and one last thing City Jackdaw isn’t-over the top dramatic).