Over the last two decades, Mrs Pickwick has presented me with three bundles of joy. The first two were the birth of the Ms Pickwicks. But the third was different.
Appearing on my birthday, I was presented with the bundle with the Pickwicks standing excitedly around me surveying the new arrival. Unlike the delivery of the Ms Pickwicks, I was able to handle the final journey of the third into the World with careful breathing, a big push of the remaining packaging until Ms Pickwick junior announced the beautiful words "Congratulations Dad, it's an IPAD".
I stared proudly at it, delighted at the new addition to the family, wiping away tears in the same way I had done as I saw the Ms Pickwicks for the first time in their post birth pinkness blinking nervously as they looked at the hulking great brute that nature had chosen to be their father.
As a first impression, I was particularly impressed that my IPAD arrived with my name on it unlike the Ms Pickwicks. However, such is the enthusiasm of Ms Pickwick Senior for tattoos that the omission may be rectified shortly, tastefully inked in Hindi within an ornate design around it.
Once my IPAD was out of the packaging and had blinked into life assertively, I noticed an important advantage of an IPAD over a new baby. It is quite easy to hold. It does not wriggle and you are unlikely to bang it against door frames as you go from room to room.
There then followed a period of some thirty minutes when I had to prepare the IPAD to be ready to go. An account had to be set up; password decided and password reminder decided upon. Ms Pickwick junior saw me through the process memorising the password as I typed it in for later unauthorised use. The IPAD did not mind. It sat impassively occasionally telling me that my password did not match when I input it for the second time or was not strong enough.
In contrast, the configuration phase of the Ms Pickwicks was for far more problematic. To begin with, I was not familiar with the features of the bodywork for such a new model. The application of the nappy was a hit-and-miss affair throughout the whole process, and the Ms Pickwicks were not too pleased with my efforts expressing their displeasure in the only way they knew how.
In short, the Ms Pickwicks were not user friendly at all in their set up phase, a position that improved temporarily but deteriorated again when they reached teenage years. This is in contrast to the IPAD.
Next comes the ability to play with the new arrival. Ms Pickwick junior introduced me to the App Store from which I found she had made the IPAD the proud owner of a number of games, the only one of which I could comprehend required me to control a poor soul ejected from a Temple pursued by a surprisingly nimble bear and a pack of what looked like wild dogs. Despite his lot, the point of "Temple Run" required him to rather unbelievably collect rows of coins which had been lined up outside of the temple along his path. I have not proved successful at this game, preferring to focus on the survival instinct rather than combine it with the rampant materialism of the coin collection. I have looked in the App Store in vain for a Church of England version of "Temple Run" which commences at the point of the Sunday service when the Vicar announces "we will now offer each other the sign of peace" and the hunted is pursued out of the Church by enthusiastic evangelicals declaring "The Peace of the Lord" as they try to shake his hand.
Again, the IPAD wins over the new baby on the playing front, it being impossible to advance through the levels with the latter until the baby has reached adulthood. The simple fact is that you might not want to wait that long.
Maintenance is very important in the decision which to go for - an IPAD or a baby. With a baby (in contrast to IPAD), regular payments will be required to maintain the equipment which will rise considerably as the unit ages. It is also impossible to upgrade the baby as well unlike its mother (unless she has been future proofed)
So, the arrival of the IPAD has brought the patter of finger nails on its touch sensitive screen into the bosom of the Pickwick household. This has bought into focus the comparative benefits of the IPAD over the Ms Pickwicks and their ilk.
The comparison however is only theoretical. For if I did announce to Mrs Pickwick that I would like a new baby, she would look daggers at me, this avenue having been dispensed with many years ago. Perhaps this is why I was given an IPAD for my birthday. And I would never have set up the IPAD properly if it was not for the Ms Pickwicks. So, we have all ended up in the right place!