The Toy Boy

This is – was – the best charity shop I’ve ever had the pleasure to explore.  Run by a cancer charity, it closed down last year to be taken over as a high-end, women’s fashion shop.  I mourn it.  From the name, I’m guessing it was previously a toy shop, unless it was the shop front for a male escort agency.  Unlikely in Campbeltown.  Everything about The Toy Boy was funky.  The interior was crammed to the gills with clothes racks and furniture, and the shelves were stacked, higgledy-piggledy, with old toys, household articles, and knickknacks.  I bought Chucky at The Toy Boy for a mere 10p.  They were probably glad to see him gone (click on the link and you’ll understand why).

At the back were tottering heaps of books that required mountaineering skills to negotiate, or you might bring the whole edifice tumbling down around your ears.  Over all, a patina of dust, except where disturbed by browsers.  There was treasure in them thar hills, although I’m pretty sure no one would have fought me to the death for its possession.  Beyond these 3 main areas, there was no attempt at organization.  I did once overhear a man promising to come in soon to tidy the place up.  Thankfully, he found better things to do.

The counter itself was home to CDs and cassette tapes, behind which were usually an extended family, or so it seemed – grandmothers, mothers, and bairns  in various permutations.  It wasn’t so much like going into a shop, more like visiting someone’s house and being able to ratch through their stuff.

Gone the way of all good things – I hold to the pessimistic view of history – and only the antiseptic Red Cross charity shop by the harbour is left.  Where everything is clean, bright, properly arranged and priced.  The books are arranged alphabetically.  Horrors!

So Long and Thanks for the Macintosh (Steve Jobs 1955-2011)

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made me fall in love with computers.  Although I had a Sinclair ZX81 in the early 1980s, it wasn’t until my first long term job in Seattle, in 1989, that I met the Macintosh Plus.  Part of it was the frisson of working in a fairly unconventional job – testing condoms – combined with using exciting new technology.  In a word, cool.  But it was more than that.  The Macintosh Plus was beautifully designed, beautifully executed inside the box, and a pleasure to use.  I was also a virgin when it came to real computers, not counting the ZX81.  No surprise, really, that I fell head over heels in love.

I wasn’t faithful, because PCs were so much cheaper, and I couldn’t afford to buy a Mac for home use.  But every Microsoft PC reinforced the divide between ugly, complicated, bug-prone computers, and the grace, ease of use, and elegance of a Mac.  I would stay late at work, just to use the Mac.  Finally, I realized there was no point in settling for 3rd best, and bought one.  I’ve never looked back since.  True, the beach ball is sometimes noticeable on this 3 year old MacBook, but I think of it as an idiosyncrasy rather than a fault.  Usually.

I will be forever grateful to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak for creating the Macintosh, and making the world a more civilized place in the process.  Now Steve Jobs has died, far too young at 56, and from a disease that claims far too many people.  I just wanted to say, thank you.

Here is Steve Jobs’ Commencement Address at Stanford University in 2005.  I like what he has to say about living as if you were going to die the next day.  Hard to do, but worth striving for.  A fascinating insight into his life and motivations.