Shortly before we arrived home the other evening, ‘she who must be obeyed’ told me that we needed to buy something called a ‘sound bar’. I nodded sagely and may have muttered something vaguely
confirmatory. I had just arrived by train from Lisbon and was enjoying looking at the scenery and was also experiencing the slight frisson of fear which accompanied being driven in Portugal. No matter how
competent one’s driver is, the Portuguese are not the safest of people on the roads. As I was saying, though, I was informed that we simply had to get this sound bar contraption; apparently for the old TV which
resides in our summer lounge. It seems that the quality of sound is not great (I had not really noticed, but then I have Van Gogh’s ear for music) and that it would be better if we had the aforementioned bit of
kit. I honestly had little idea what this ‘sound bar’ thing was. I understood the two words which comprised its name: I had not, however, heard them juxtaposed in this clearly technological fashion. I was
instructed to note the connecting points on the TV and that on the morrow, we would be journeying to our local big city to purchase a suitable sound bar. So, there we were, in a large emporium full of sound
bars. A helpful, eager chap approached, with a big grin and good English, which is always a bonus when discussing matters technical. Having explained our need, he was at pains to explain that we had a variety
of choices and asked which brand of TV did we have? Having established the brand, and the approximate age, it became disturbingly clear that our TV simply did not have an ‘optical port’.
I confess that I was not in a position to debate the matter. I have long found that when presented with a sentence such as ‘that model doesn’t have an optical port’, my best stratagem is a slightly pursed lip and
a sage nod. Nearly always, there is an assumption that, being a chap, I have a sort of built-in technological translator that allows me to not only understand this gobbledygook, but to respond to it meaningfully.
I don’t. Hence the silent, knowledgeable look which, when adopted, encourages the speaker to continue in a similar vein. A few minutes later, two things had become apparent. The first was there was no sound
bar which would work with a TV of such an ancient pedigree as ours, and the second was that I had ceased to be able to
play any practical part in the conversation. At this point, ‘she who must be obeyed’ seamlessly entered the fray and advised that we would go home and look again at our TV, hoping to magically come across
some hidden connection possibility. Either that, or we would buy a newer TV set. I have just looked at the side of the TV, instead of the back and guess what I have discovered? That’s right! It is a little socket
thing which will connect to a soundbar. I feel almost technologically competent.