The downside of living halfway across the world from the people you love is that you don't get to see them in person. The upside is that you get to see them in grainy, pixelated form with jerky facial movements and stuck with unfortunate expressions, as if the wind has suddenly changed direction and the old wives tale is true. Skype, what a wondrous invention.
This afternoon I had an appointment to chat with not just my immediate family but a few cousins and aunts and uncles too, all gathered for my aunt's 60th birthday party.
The chat went like this:
Me: hello? hello? hello? Can you hear me?
[Lots of sighing, peering at camera, fiddling with buttons while family does same. Remembered that camera was on and wished I’d turned it off before peering right into the camera, sticking face up close and scrunching it up in frustration..
[5:06:59 PM] Victoria Simpson: i can see you but cant hear you
[5:09:00 PM] Victoria Simpson: can you hear me
[5:09:02 PM] Victoria Simpson: ?
hang up, check sound (it’s working), check mic (it’s working) call again.
[5:09:55 PM] Victoria Simpson: cant hear you..is your sound on?
[5:11:00 PM] Victoria Simpson: can you hear me?
[5:12:19 PM] Victoria Simpson: can you hear me?
[brother and dad alternately stick mouths right up to the camera and mouth words, of which I can work out exactly none.
[5:14:13 PM] Victoria Simpson: type
[5:14:20 PM] Victoria Simpson: hello?
[5:14:39 PM] Dale Simpson: Vic wer can hear u (sic)
[5:14:55 PM] Victoria Simpson: ok well i cant hear you guys..
[5:15:01 PM] Victoria Simpson: just see you:)
[5:15:05 PM] Victoria Simpson: is your sound on?
[5:15:09 PM] Victoria Simpson: i mean your mic
[5:15:21 PM] Dale Simpson: u talk we will listen
Me speaking : no I can’t do that, that’s arb.
[dad begins mouthing words again and someone points camera hurriedly at each family member, reducing them all to a blur of light and colour]
The “conversation” carried on in this vein for close to an hour: cousin making faces, alternate family members waving, more frenzied camera movement and close ups of faces at odd angles, more typing and me talking to silence and laughing ruefully and waving and grinning at each other.
I love my family. And while I like it when Skype works, sometimes it’s funny when it doesn’t..