Me: Hi, it’s Christina. Got a minute?
Tom: Er… yes? I mean –
Me: Good. OK. So I want to talk to you about buying an iPad.
Tom: Again. Right.
Me: Yes, well, I just feel like every weekend for a few weeks now I’ve just spent quite a lot of my time visiting iPads in John Lewis, or looking at them online, so a big part of me is just, like, fucking BUY one, you know?
Tom: I –
Me: And then I keep justifying it to myself, like, saying, well, I’ve earned enough from singing this year to cover the cost. And that’s basically FREE money, isn’t it? It’s, like, money I shouldn’t really have?
Tom: Did you do the singing?
Me: Yes. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s not my JOB, it’s just A job at weekends.
Me: Although sometimes, I do kind of wish it was my actual job. But it would be way stressful and I’d probably spontaneously combust with paranoia. Anyway.
Me: It’s money that I shouldn’t have, but I do, that doesn’t really exist, and therefore I can spend it on fun things like iPads rather than on food or clothes.
Me: Or electricity.
Me: Because electricity is actually really expensive.
Tom: Mmm. (Briskly) Do you want me to tell you that you should buy an iPad?
Me: Well, that’s the thing. So while I really want an iPad, I’m also acutely aware that I’m totally a pawn of capitalist consumer culture here.
Me: Totally. Before we HAD iPads, I wasn’t, like, ‘oh, if only there was some kind of small, lightweight, sexy-looking computer thing that would let me look at the internet and download excellent apps and type really slowly and make me look like a div on public transport –
Tom: MORE of a div.
Tom: It would make you look like MORE of a div on public transport.
Me: What I’m saying is that, while I do think about buying an iPad all the time, I fully recognise that my need for an iPad has been totally manufactured by Apple, who conveniently also manufacture iPads.
Tom: Do you understand how consumerism works?
Me: Then last week I read this article by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books about Marx and stuff, and he said how iPads are made at this factory in China that’s the same size as EXETER or something, by workers who never get to go to bed and have hardly any money at all.
Tom: Everything’s made in a factory in China. You have a TV, don’t you?
Me: It died on Tuesday. Digital switchover.
Me: I know. But anyway, I’m spending all this time agonizing over whether or not to buy an iPad, and there are people making these things in Chengdu whose quality of life is so laughably inferior to mine it makes me feel that I should absolve all my worldly possessions and go and become an aid worker or something.
Tom: Do you want to be an aid worker?
Me: No. I think I’d be really rubbish at it.
Tom: Do you want an iPad?
Me: That’s just it. Do I really want one? Or do I just THINK I want one?
Tom (heavily): Why do you want one?
Me (enthusiastically): Well, I could get this really cool app that Cara has on her school iPad that lets you navigate music pdfs really easily. You can make notes, and mark Da Capos, and pull up a little keyboard if you want to play any bits through to yourself. And there’s a built-in metronome that you can set to tick, or just pulse!
Tom: You’re so pathetic.
Me: And I could get the (special Bjork voice) Biophilia app. That would be amazing.
Tom: That would be cool.
Me: And the Glee app.
Me: And I could read all the papers really easily every day through cunning use of apps. Which is important if I’m going to be a writer. Jane says all writers read all the papers every day, and that’s work.
Tom: You don’t actually have a writing job though, do you?
Me: That’s not the point. I could get the Times app and read the Caitlin Moran bits ALL THE TIME, not just when mum and dad remember to fish theirs out of the bin.
Tom: Can you type on it?
Me: Yes. Not very well, obviously, but I’m sure that with time my fingers would evolve, or become small and shrivelled enough to type.
Tom: OK. So it sounds like you would find it really useful.
Me: Yes, yes I would. But then, I keep thinking, I have a laptop already. And that did break the other week, but then it came back from the dead on Easter Sunday, so it’s not like I need a replacement or anything. And iPads are so EXPENSIVE.
Tom: I thought you said you’d earned enough money to pay for it?
Me: Well, yes, I have, but I’m still not sure I’d be able to go through with it. On Monday I got in late, a bit pissed, and got all the way to the checkout on the Apple website before I came to my senses.
Me: I’d personalised it and everything. It would have had my initials and ‘just write’ written on the back.
Tom: (choking noises)
Me: The thing that stopped me getting it was remembering that I’d entered a competition in Peter Jones the week before. I had to go and find all these Easter Eggs. I’m pretty sure I was the only person above the age of 8 doing it. In fact, I cheated in Furniture and Electronics by following a family around who were doing it for their kids.
Tom: You’re so pathetic.
Me: No, I’m not, I have poor spatial awareness. Anyway, one of the prizes for that was an iPad, and I suddenly thought – what if I’d won?
Tom: Then you’d have two iPads and you could give one to me.
Me: Ha – sell one, maybe.
Tom: I’m your BROTHER. You wouldn’t give me your spare iPad?
Me: No. Anyway, I still think my life would be about five thousand times easier, in every conceivable sense, if I HAD won. I wouldn’t have all this WORRY. It’s so hard to know what to do.
Tom: Are you saying you wish someone would just give you an iPad?
Me: Obviously. Well, anyway, I think we can safely say that I will not be getting one TODAY.
Tom: I think that’s probably for the best.
Me: Thanks for talking me through it. You know the best part? I have just effectively saved about £400.
Me: No, really, I have. I can basically buy anything else I want today and it will be free. I am so good at saving.
Me: OK. Cold now. Byeeeeeee!