About a week ago, Mark disappeared. He mentioned in an e-mail that he’d spent some time in the Emergency Room and was on painkillers. That was the last I heard for days. His land line phone was disconnected, his mobile phone played a message saying that it wasn’t able to accept calls “at the subscriber’s request”, and he didn’t answer e-mail for days.

Obviously, all kinds of horrible scenarios started to run through my mind. Maybe he’d died of an infection contracted during surgery. Maybe he was wrapped in bandages, horribly disfigured by a vicious attack from a gang of unknown assailants.

Eventually he surfaced again. He was fine. The surgery turned out to be for a nasty infection of a trivial (almost embarrassing) wound; he’d just been spending a lot of time in bed, and had the cellphone turned off because he didn’t want people interrupting him. (Mine has a power switch, but who knows?) He’d had the land line disconnected months before because he’s joined the approximately 20% of people in the US who don’t bother with any voice line apart from a mobile phone. I must admit, it makes sense if you don’t call internationally; a mobile phone package is cheaper than a land line.

Anyway, Mark wants to learn programming. He’s thinking C or Java. I’m thinking Java, but probably after The Little Lisper, as a gentle introduction to the whole idea of what programs do. If that doesn’t put him off, then Java. I think everyone has the potential to learn programming… after all, it’s not rocket science, unless you’re working on SDI, and if you are, then apparently it doesn’t matter if your code works anyway. No, anyone can write code, but I do feel that it takes a certain kind of mind to do it well and to want to do it.

I’m intrigued to learn that Mark was brought to America 22 years ago, yet still doesn’t sound American. There’s hope for me! Actually, I wouldn’t mind too much if I could lapse into an American accent; what would bother me would be if I ended up in a situation analogous to one of the guys at Harlequin, whose sole speaking voice was a bizarre blend of Yorkshire and California. Gag me with a spoon, by ’eck.