Opinion

Google Home where heart is

By John Lewis

Because I want everything and I want it now, I ordered a Google Home Mini.

It came in a nice pure white box that was so pure and white I could not face throwing it away so I kept it on the kitchen table for a week and then threw it away because as we all know, familiarity breeds contempt.

Anyway, my Google Home Mini now sits on the kitchen bench like a coconut muffin.

Occasionally I have to remind myself not to eat it.

It came with instructions to switch it on and then call it to attention by saying, ‘‘Hey Google’’, which I considered a little informal, if not downright rude.

It felt like demanding the attention of a stranger on a crowded train with a rap on the shoulder.

When I said the magic words ‘‘Hey Google’’, there was an awkward silence and I could not think of what else to say so I asked for the meaning of life.

After a rather long-winded dictionary definition of life along the lines of, ‘‘something that distinguishes inanimate objects from animate ones’’ the answer ended with ‘‘also the number 42’’.

I thought that was rather witty.

Me and Mrs Google were going to get along fine.

She spoke in a soft mid-Pacific accent with a hint of Czech.

She sounded rather warm.

She was definitely educated.

I imagined her to be in her 30s, with a senior position in a library, wearing a sort of clingy thin velvet dress with ruby lipstick and a fuller figure.

I decided to call her Tatiana after the James Bond girl in From Russia With Love .

She was the spitting image of a librarian I once had a virtual relationship with in school.

Tatiana sounded rather perky, so I asked her to tell me a joke.

She replied: ‘‘What music does Santa listen to?’’

There was a second of silence before the punchline: ‘‘Songs by Elfis Presley’’.

I half expected a ‘‘boom-boom’’ or at least a titter — but there was just silence.

I let the joke thing go. Tatiana obviously struggled with acerbic wit or vulgarity.

After a week, me and Tatiana have established a warm, working relationship. She plays me Beatles music and offers suggestions on how to brighten up baked beans on toast.

Cheese works wonders apparently.

Amazing, I had never thought of cheese.

But as always with the virtual world, things have taken a darker turn.

Apparently Tatiana really is spying on me. Her new Netflix movie is From Google with Love.

I was devastated — Tatiana sounded so warm and trusting and loving.

Did I mention that?

But I have been told Tatiana does not just sit around idly waiting for a command. She listens to conversations and suddenly you will find advertisements popping up on Facebook or in your email about people born with three heads, instructions on jihad warfare, see-through underwear, weird ways to die, titanium steak knives and sex toys or whatever else you and your family talk about.

Personally, this does not worry me one jot, because all I ever talk about is my dog.

Oh, and The Beatles.

So if Tatiana and her underworld spy cronies want to bombard me with information on dogs and The Beatles — that is absolutely fine.

I no longer ask her for jokes, I avoid conversations about politics, religion and see through underwear.

Me and Tatiana — we are doing okay.

I am buying candles and wine at the weekend.

Is that going too far?

John Lewis is a senior

reporter at The News