I studied French and Management Studies at university. The French bit was fairly obvious - Zola, Maupassant, Cezanne, asking if you have any pets, Chagall, Magritte, that kind of thing. I can still vaguely recall some of the texts I read, some of the paintings I studied. I've still got quite a few of the books, as well as various coffee-table books of the paintings. What I gleaned from them I can barely remember, but I did find my dissertation in which I managed to insert a Darth Vader quote right under the noses of the examiners. On the Management Studies bit I am less clear. There was something about EU Competition Law, and the amusingly titled Abuse of a Dominant Position, which even as a 19 year old was quite amusing. We also did some kind of case study on The Pier, a shabby chic home décor chain which clearly didn't listen to us as they closed down in 2008. Whatever else I did in those three years I am completely unable to say, but I came away with a piece of paper denoting achievement and glory. None of it, to my knowledge, has proved of any use whatsoever, beyond being able to show people the piece of paper when asked.
So I was very pleased to have my memory jogged by the BBC News website recently, when it published an article about Maslow. For those of you that don't know, Maslow was a man who studied human motivation, and devised the eponymously-named Maslow's Triangle, or Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I remembered it instantly, though the context remains lost in the past. Presumably it was some kind of wishy-washy Human Resources module. The theory is that you start at the bottom with very basic needs, food and warmth for instance, and gradually move up the triangle until you reach the peak, which is complete fulfilment and happiness, and, presumably, uninhibited productivity for your employer. I'm nearly there.
However to one side of the article was a fresh interpretation of Maslow's most famous work, which I have nabbed and posted below. It made me giggle, not quite as much as photo-shopping Tropicbirds it has to be said, but sufficiently to motivate me to write about it. It's sublimely brilliant, hat's off to whoever first came up with it - there are endless variations on the net. Pure simplicity, but so true. I'm as guilty as the next person, as my recent visit to Ireland proved. Food - sliced bread that was left over from a gull photography session. Water - one bottle lasted three days. Shelter - Nissan Qashqai. Warmth - Nissan Qashqai heater and a sleeping bag. All of the above are completely superfluous to surviving in the digital age, but wifi? Critical. I need to check Twitter. I need to look at RBA. I need to see if anyone has emailed me. I need an internet connection. Food, water, not bothered. Warmth? Whatever, what's the password? Shelter? Will it work through the walls if I'm sat in the Nissan?
The need to be connected at all times beggars belief. I was having dinner in the rather nice little village of Skerries just outside Dublin. All alone, I spent the time watching the other diners. At a table of four just in front of me, the young lady in the party spent the entire meal, and I mean the entire meal, on Facebook. She chatted a bit, responded to the conversation as it ebbed and flowed, but her right hand always held the phone, scrolling back and forth, seeing whatever pathetic updates and links have come through from a pile of people she barely knows. I suppose I'm hardly the ideal person to be criticising this ridiculous over-use of the internet, but that never stops me on other topics, so I got to wondering what it is like to be completely off piste? Is there even anywhere? I reckon most places I go, all of them now have wifi. It's the first thing people ask for, so it's the first thing that people install. It's a selling point. How many hotels have a crappy little telly and tea and coffee making facilities? They all do. My last hotel had a trouser press, how quaint! Nobody cares, they just want wifi. My hotel on the tip of Tobago had wifi, Kilbaha (population, 9) had wifi, various places in Morocco had wifi, the Shetland ferry in the middle of the North Sea has wifi,. Where can I go that doesn't have wifi? I want to see if I can survive more than a day.