Column: A Blessing for Elderly Ladies13 February 2010 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
‘Excessive internet use is linked to depression,’ according to a report produced by British scientists this week, ‘but it is not clear whether the internet causes depression or whether depressed people are more prone to be to drawn to it.’
Moments later I was confronted with a pop-up on The Guardian website which contained this text in plain Dutch: ‘Around 5 million Dutchmen experience extreme loss of hair, are you one of them?’ You could tick yes or no, I would have liked to be able to select this option: ‘I think that’s pretty clear, just look at my pictures on this website.’ Does this make me feel downcast? Not really...
Personally I am on the internet far too much, plus my TV is on all day; I don’t want to miss anything that may be of interest. Apart, that is, from when I am writing, then you could hear a pin drop.
Watching television has made me conversant with a lot of facts, for example I am well versed in ‘Megastructures’, ‘Air Crash Investigations’ and Dr. Phil. The latter is a very instructive programme about American society.
Dr. Phil simply has a solution for everything. I will give you an example: today’s patient has run away from home, is an alcoholic, has mounting debts, she has lost her left leg and has recently become a prostitute.
Well none of these issues are solved during the broadcast, especially not the problem with the left leg. Still, at the end of the episode, Dr Phil, in a voice thick with emotion suggests: ‘How would you react if we put you in contact with the foremost therapist in the country?’
I strongly recommend not to visit Dr Phil’s website because it triggers an instant depression. Suppose you are looking for the programme about internet addiction, before you know it Dr. Phil instructs you to reSTART, a clinic near Seattle. In just 45 days they cure you of your web obsession provided you are willing to part with 14,500 dollars. They even advertise on the internet.
Actually the internet is like everything else: you have to consume it in sensible amounts.
A few days later my mother (85) and my aunt (83) entered the world of Skype with a birthday girl who lives overseas. For the first time in their lives they could phone and see the birthday girl at the same time. Not only that, the girl in question could see the elderly ladies! Tearful-eyes moment number one. One and a half hours later I had a splendid idea: grab this opportunity to move two elderly ladies even more through the internet.
How? With Máxima of course; I quickly surfed to YouTube to show the ‘appearance of the tear’ during the wedding ceremony of Máxima and the Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. Success guaranteed and tearful-eyes moment number two. ‘So I just need to type in a name to see the relevant pictures,’ concluded my aunt, still quite overcome.
I decided to show a video of myself in which I am reciting one of my poems. The ladies looked at me in utter amazement, were they suddenly in the presence of David Copperfield? My speakers, set at the highest volume, nearly burst at the seams. ‘I can hear it very well.’ said my mother, who has lost 70 percent of her hearing ability.
She has lost her sight to the same extent, so she said touched: ‘And you have tidied up lovely, no dust at all.’ Normally at this point she adds: ‘And he does it all by himself.’ ‘Quite...,’ said my aunt who noticed the dust spilling out from my bookshelves.
A distraction was required so it was time for me to act quickly. Music would do the trick: Gabriella’s Song from the movie As It Is In Heaven. My aunt retrieved her handkerchief from her handbag and a notebook to record the details. Prompt for tearful-eyes moment number three.
Certainly we continued, with Virginia Woolf walking into the river to the sound of Philip Glass’ music at the end of the film The Hours. Next I showed them Katherine Jenkins (my treat) singing Hallelujah (a treat for the ladies) by Leonard Cohen. ‘Maybe I should consider this for my funeral,’ declared my aunt noting it down.
Before the ladies could recover I showed them Bach’s Air, Verdi’s Requiem, and not forgetting, of course, the complete funeral of Diana. By the rendition of I Vow To Thee My Country they were sobbing wrecks.
Later that evening my mother phoned me to tell me she had had a wonderful afternoon. I am clearly more effective than Dr Phil and this is because of the internet.
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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