Tech Cynic: The distraction bird
Mobile Communications

Tech Cynic: The distraction bird

When my daughters were young and annoying, as opposed to adolescent and annoying as they are now, I would sometimes have to placate and subdue them on long car journeys, especially once they were old enough to properly argue with each other, which was as soon as they could both speak.

My chosen technique for defusing their travel arguments was the Distraction Bird. In the middle of a "No, you did!" "No, you did!" heated debate from the back seats as I was trying to concentrate on driving over one of the twistiest roads on the planet (Rimutaka Hill Road, Wairarapa, New Zealand), I came up with the concept of this imaginary creature.

"Look!" I'd cry suddenly in mock surprise, pointing upwards through the sunroof with one hand whilst swerving to avoid a logging truck straddling the double-yellow lines in the opposite direction, along with the suicidal motorcyclist overtaking it on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend. "Look! It's the Distraction Bird!"

They fell for it every time, pausing in their argument, hands still clasped firmly around each other's throat, to ask urgently, "Where? Where?" and crane their necks to peer out of the car windows, catching glimpses of sky between precarious rocky cliffs that would occasionally shed their load on the road.

"Oh, you just missed it," I'd say. "Hang on, wait until we get around this next corner." With some creative effort I could keep them enthralled for several minutes, by which time the original argument had usually been forgotten. They never once caught a glimpse of the Distraction Bird but they were convinced of its existence.

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Alex Cruickshank

Alex Cruickshank has been writing about technology and business since 1994. He has lived in various far-flung places around the world and is now based in Berlin.  

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