New Year 2021: an elephant for good luck


Embroidered Indian elephant (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Having had a technologically thwartful few weeks, I came to blog posting in a less than jolly mood but trying hard to be positive, I  entitled my draft ‘an elephant for good luck’. Happily, it seems feng shui does hold them lucky creatures, though if you do want an image of one in your house in accordance with feng shui principles, it should be placed just inside the front door and face into the house – which may not be possible for the recipient of this particular elephant. But there we are,  my spirits have risen a little.

Embroidered Indian elephant with David Attenborough quote (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Nanoseconds later spirits have, however, sunk again as a warning from Adobe Flash Player flits across my screen telling me it will cease functioning from 12 January this year. No one has ever been able to work out why I have Adobe Flash nor what I use it for. And anyway, I thought I had already got rid of it!!! . Grr, grr, triple grr…

Embroidered Indian elephant with flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Small rant ensues. I’m of the generation for whom a television set came with the parental edict never to touch any button other than on/off and channel change – there were 2 channels. Touching the horizontal hold  seemed to be a particularly heinous crime but thumping the top of the set when things went fuzzy seemed perfectly permissible. In recent times new computers/phones, etc., come accompanied with my children’s direction to ‘just play with it’, an exhortation which fills my generally biddable soul with such horror as to render me incompetent and incapable, frozen in anticipation of things going wrong. And they do. Consequently, I try to avoid updates of any sort unless I have a trusted person beside me with an afternoon, or even day or two spare and a willingness to devote themselves exclusively to me in my nigh on pathological fear of inviting change into my computer. In these times , of course, no such support is available.

Embroidered Indian elephant with David Attenborough quote (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

By late December, computer irritations – slow downloading, the aforementioned Adobe Flash warnings, non downloading of photos from my camera, etc., etc., seemed to be mounting and I made the wild decision to update the operating system before the old, troublesome year was out. This, I was optimistically and irrationally convinced, would enable me to start the new year with a smoothly functioning machine. Zealously and semi-ritualistically, I first cleaned my Mac Book until it looked like new. On New Year’s Eve, under the telephone direction of daughter No 3, with a few hiccoughs, we  seemed successfully to have set the download in motion.

Embroidered Indian elephant with flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Ha, Ha, Ha! Well, of course, that wasn’t the end of it.  The download seemed to have happened but my password no longer worked – I couldn’t even shut the machine down. A day later, I set out computerwards again, striding womanfully onto the shining uplands of the new year.  This time the original password worked but passwords to other areas didn’t. Passwords slipped through the air like autumn leaves, as they were tried, failed, reset and failed again, while security messages sent to my at that time inaccessible email languished unseen, unread and unusable. Downhearted, I abandoned the sleek silver box of pain and tried to forge a pathway through the next few months which included no catch up TV and radio, no emails and no blogging. Life was looking very grim and I realised how dependent my happiness had been on such things during the last year. Slump. slump, slump. Sob, sob, sob.

Embroidered Indian elephant with flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Gradually over the next few days, most applications juddered back to life, responded to former passwords and were opened to me!!!

Then we had a new hub …the BT engineer is returning on Monday.

Embroidered Indian elephant with flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Today, however, in joyous validation of the much maligned pathetic fallacy (which often works in real life, though should be avoided in literature), the sun came out and I worked out how to download photographs!!

Most of which is great but exhausting beyond belief. No longer fully human, we flop over the things we want to do like 2 over-wrung dish clothes ready to be consigned to the rubbish bin. It has been a trying start to what may well be a demanding year.

The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule (pub V & A Museum, 1982) & Visions of Mughal India: The Collection of Howard Hodgkin (pub. Ashmolean Museum 2012)

Returning to the elephant which I first showed and wrote about here. The writing was quite wrong. Black cross stitch didn’t work. Small ears reminded me it was an Indian elephant and as such I felt it needed colour. Scanning books, like the two above  (my running elephant was taken directly from an Indian Miniature in Howard Hodgkin’s collection), I realised the embroidery needed little clumps of flowers and a colourful border. Instead of black cross stitch, hand lettering in Mulberry is clear enough to be read but fine enough not to intrude on our elephant as it frolics in a field of flowering plants. Finished, this is my Christmas present to Daughter No 1.

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  1. ceci
    Posted January 6, 2021 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for soldiering on with your IT issues so we can enjoy your work. I loved the elephant before, and now with the colorful border and clumps of flowers he is even more adorable.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 6, 2021 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      Comments like yours make it all worth while, Ceci.
      How clever of you to remember the elephant from before!
      Thank you.

  2. Posted January 7, 2021 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I have such sympathy for all those tech problems – they always seem to expand and fill the earth, don’t they!

    I’m so glad you’re back online though. He’s a lovely elephant, and the books must have been a welcome distraction from the tech…

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 7, 2021 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for this Rachel – you feel such a fool not being able to deal with these sort of problems – your understanding is much appreciated. I always blame my own inadequacy or laziness and then go into a cycle of self criticism – all very wearying and, as you say, all consuming.

      • Posted January 10, 2021 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        My husband, who has worked on safety-critical software systems, is uncharacteristically brusque and unforgiving on the subject of user interfaces that confuse the user and obscure understanding. That goes for websites, gadgets, software, even telephone helplines. There’s been a lot of research on the subject, and it isn’t applied even half as often as it should be.

        Never feel a fool in your interactions with tech. If it surprises you, if it is hard to work out what to do with it, that’s not on you. It’s all on the designers.

        • Mary Addison
          Posted January 10, 2021 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          V. comforting, Rachel. It’s worth airing one’s frustrations just to have people come forward with helpful comments that support what one instinctively feels but lacks the confidence to do any more than suspect. Many thanks.

          • Posted January 15, 2021 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

            You’re very welcome. From both of us!

  3. Linda Pennell
    Posted January 8, 2021 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Oh I feel your pain! Despite my – very similar- inadequacies, I have been so very grateful that Xoom didn’t crash over the holidays

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 8, 2021 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Tech advances are brilliant when you’ve got to grips with them and that’s why updating or getting into new services is so traumatic.
      Glad it worked for you, Linda, over Christmas.

  4. Amara Bray
    Posted January 10, 2021 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Rachel above. If the user interface is problematic that is a design flaw. My husband is a programmer too and backs me up in this. Also I didn’t say on your last post I am so happy your husband got the vaccine!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 10, 2021 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      Well, thank you for making it clear it’s not (always) my fault but I do wish there was some warning that for e.g that certain functions will reappear … eventually. My husband is no computer buff but he does do pretty well and has the merit of being calm and doggedly determined – I tend to impatience and despair in the face of technical perversity, although in other things Im quite calm.
      How nice to know you’re glad my husband has had his first vaccination, Thank you. It feels pretty momentous.

  5. Amara Bray
    Posted January 10, 2021 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    The elephant is just beautiful too!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 10, 2021 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Thank you.

  6. Kat
    Posted January 14, 2021 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    The elephant is simply extraordinary. What a work of art and a wonderful gift!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 14, 2021 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Kat, thank you for saying you like it.

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