It was a strange weekend for this correspondent, unwittingly pushed out of his comfort zone, which is bounded by assorted inner city bars and cafes.

Instead, I was persuaded to try a couple of days residing rurally, with picturesque views of cows grazing and ducks flying past.

The property, bristling with electronics, under-floor heating and solar panels, would in real estate language be optimistically described as "lifestyle modern".

I found myself wondering what my grandmother would have thought of a fake log fireplace that bursts into life when triggered by a battery operated remote control.


All very realistic in a Disney-like manner, with artificial smoke rising into what I presumed was an equally phony flue.

Even the garage was wired for the internet, as well as being equipped with numerous power plugs, possibly for recharging an electric car.

Shame I'm not one of those caring people trying to save the planet by driving the equivalent of an electrified milk-cart, instead of swanning around in an oversized, gas-guzzling wagon.

Left on my lonesome overnight, I felt like that space traveller in Kubrick's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, the rural silence broken only by gadgets winking or dinging every time I opened or closed a household appliance.

Having retired early, I was woken from a deep sleep by the house exterior suddenly lighting up like a Christmas tree - possibly the work of a possum setting off sensors, or some sort of timer buried deep within the property's electronics.

Clearly, I'm not equipped to deal with modern domesticity and long to go back to my grandparents' simpler world, when a single key locked a door, and you boiled a kettle on a coal-range fire, without first having to set the water temperature in a series of push-button operations.

Playing with various switches the next morning, I managed only to set off the over-sensitive, piercing alarm system twice.

When I complained to the caregiver that the sensors and pinging electronics made me extremely nervous and I couldn't wait to get back to the sanctuary of the city, she impatiently retorted that I was pressing the wrong buttons on my "personalised control unit" and advised me to read the instruction manual.


She clearly doesn't understand that alpha males never, ever, resort to reading any form of instruction manual, preferring to remain confused and grumpy all their lives.