BLOG: I Luddite by Zillah Bethell

Author Zillah Bethell has written about why her household doesn’t own any tablets and how she isn’t ‘anti-technology’ but prefers to spend time with her family out and about in South Wales.



I have just measured the screen on my television. It’s a Sony, bought ten years ago to replace the decrepit Hitachi that practically exploded during an episode of Countdown (I think one of the numbers games was a bit difficult and finished it off). A ten year old Sony from back in the day when ‘flat screen’ actually meant nothing of the sort – it’s at least five inches thick.

But as televisions go, corner to corner, it is small.

Fifteen inches.

Yes, you read that right. That’s fifteen inches and not fifty inches.


Lilliputian almost.

I don’t even think they make televisions that small anymore (certainly the staff at Currys snort with derision if they catch you perusing the extremely niche 22 and 24 inch sections)

It’s so miniscule that just trying to watch anything with subtitles is out of the question (you have to squint your eyes up so much to read the words that you can’t see what’s going on anyway, so you just pack it in).

But it’s the only TV we have.

Okay, my kids have moaned on at me for years to get a bigger one, complaining that episodes of Tintin and Hetty Feather would be better in a 3D, LED, curved screen, cinemascopic, surround sound format. Even my husband gives me puppy dog eyes whenever we pass a branch of RicherSounds.

But I’m not giving in.

Admittedly I am a bit of a luddite. Born in rural Papua New Guinea where a tin of condensed milk was the height of technological advancement, I didn’t even see a phone (you know, one of the ones that plugs into a wall) until I was nine. My brothers and I ran barefoot on the beaches and jumped into lagoons. We swam in the sea and climbed trees. Told the time from the shadows and the sun. You see, there was no technology. Nothing. Nada. Not a Dickie.

And it’s hard to shake off.

True, my kids live in a very different world to the one I was brought up in. So we have the computer (the family computer) that they can use and occasionally muck about on. And of course we have phones – to talk to each other with! But otherwise, that’s about it. Generally speaking, weekends are spent taking the dogs for enormous walks across the mountains, biking through the nature reserve or hiking over sand dunes to the best beach in South Wales.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-technology. It’s just the ‘double-edged sword’ thing. In little bursts and for the right reasons, it’s brilliant. Only, sometimes it goes a bit too far. We become too reliant on it and it takes away from all the other stuff in life. Take social media, for example – great for communicating, terrible for sucking up hours whilst watching videos of robots falling over or humorously overdubbed footage of Donald Trump. For goodness’ sake, there are only so many films of cute cats making friends with baby pigs that one can watch before turning into a blancmange!

However, even though I am such a luddite, writing a book such as The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare (set in a near future where water has become scarce) means I have to basically invent my own technology. So the characters all have QWERTYs strapped to their wrists. QWERTYs are a little like iPhones – only cooler! They can do just about anything. Get this, you can even… wait for it… tell the time on them! Amazing, yes?

I’m not sure I’ll ever truly engage with modern technology (even occasionally posting something on my Twitter page feels anathema at times) but writing about it can sometimes be great fun. You can use it to spark the imagination – just don’t use it as a replacement for life.

The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare

This new book from Zillah Bethell is about Auden Dare, who has a rare condition that means he cannot see in colour – and life is beginning to get harder for Auden. The war for water that is raging across the world is getting a little closer all the time. Everyone is thirsty all the time, and grubby, and exhausted. Auden has to learn to live without his father, who is away fighting, and has had to move to a new town and start a new school. But when he meets Vivi Rookmini, a smiling girl bright with cleverness, his hopes begin to lift. Read on…

Look out for our giveaways for October as we have 3 copies of this book to be won.


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