"Y2K," Elizabeth said patiently. "The millennium bug?"
"Ah yes," Hyacinth said, looking superior. "I am well aware of the millennium bug."
Elizabeth was doubtful but she didn't say anything. "I hope you guys are prepared for it," she said. She was already regretting having been dragged into this talk with Hyacinth. She had originally intended to head out to the supermarket but now she just wanted to go inside and crawl back into bed.
"Of course," Hyacinth said, sounding pompous. "We had all the doors and windows sealed last winter with top quality sealant."
"We also had the house fumigated last year," Hyacinth continued. "Of course, we didn't have any pests, but you can never be too careful with what insects could migrate over from one's neighbours."
Elizabeth's frown deepened.
"Not your house, dear," Hyacinth said, absent-mindedly. "I didn't discover any mice or insects last time I was there." She gave something that resembled a reassuring smile in the same way a snarling leopard resembled a household cat.
"It's not that kind of bug," Elizabeth tried to explain but Hyacinth had already walked off in a puff of perfume.
"The Internet," Hyacinth announced proudly, waving at the computer on the table. "This is the World Wide Web, Richard."
Richard nodded dutifully. He would readily admit to anybody that he didn't know the first thing about the Internet or the World Wide Web or whatever they were calling it nowadays. He didn't know what spiders had to do with computers but he was positive that there was a deep meaningful connections. He pointed down at the table. "What's that?"
"This, dear, is called a mouse," Hyacinth told him proudly. "The man from the computer shop came by to set all of this up this afternoon. Of course, I told him that we could have done it ourselves given that our son Sheridan goes to a polytechnic of university quality; however, he made the most unpleasant face when I told him what Sheridan was studying."
"How does it work?" Richard asked, with a frown. He picked up the mouse and waved it around the air experimentally.
Hyacinth clucked in disapproval. She reached over and turned on the computer. "It is now booting up," she explained. As they watched, a small arrow appeared on the screen. "This is a cursor."
"So how does it work," Richard asked.
Hyacinth picked up the mouse confidently and held it up to the computer screen. "Like this," she told him as she moved the mouse along the computer screen.
Richard was surprised when nothing happened.
"Richard!" Hyacinth exclaimed.
He stuck his head into their former guest bedroom that Hyacinth had now named the computer room. "Yes, dear?" he asked.
Hyacinth was looking at the computer screen with a horrified expression on her face. "Come and look at this, Richard," she said. "It's scandalous!"
Richard began walking over when Hyacinth suddenly leapt up from her chair and tried to use her body to hide what was on the computer screen. "Did you want me to look at the screen?" he asked mildly.
"I've changed my mind," she said rapidly, shifting her body so that he couldn't see the screen. "There is nothing on this screen you'd want to see. Nothing at all."
"But you just said it was scandalous," Richard protested.
"Richard! I will not have you looking at such material!" Hyacinth told him. She picked up the computer screen and held it behind her.
"But, but," Richard said and gave up. He really didn't get how Hyacinth's mind worked. "I'm going to go and finish my cup of tea."
Hyacinth nodded. As Richard left the room, he could hear her mutter, "Scandalous!" again under her breath. He turned around and could just see a flash of the computer screen. Richard's eyes gleamed. There were certainly interesting things on this Internet.
"I think we might need to ask Sheridan what his ... address is on this Internet," Richard suggested as he looked over Hyacinth's shoulder.
"Nonsense!" Hyacinth told him. "I am well aware of how emails work."
Richard looked dubiously at the email address she had entered in. "Are you sure this is the right one?"
"It says SheridanBouquet," Hyacinth told him. "Of course, it's the right one." She manoeuvred the mouse slowly and carefully until she clicked the Send button.
Richard frowned. "But surely there is more than one Sheridan Bucket, uh, Bouquet in the world?"
Hyacinth let out a long-suffering sigh. "Our Sheridan is more important, Richard. This is how the Internet works."
Richard knew very little about computers and even less about the Internet but he would have bet anything that the Internet didn't work that way. Then again, once Hyacinth got an idea into her head, there was nothing he could do to dissuade her.
"Ah ha!" Hyacinth announced, jabbing a finger at the computer screen. "I've already gotten a response. Sheridan is so clever." She clicked on the response.
Richard resisted the urge to burst out laughing as he read the email. "I don't think that's a response from Sheridan," he said.
Hyacinth looked like she had just swallowed several lemons. "I don't think so either," she said stiffly. "Sheridan would not be offering to enlarge... organs."
Richard wasn't so sure about that, but he held his tongue.
"I think," Hyacinth said, breathing heavily, "that we need to get rid of this computer and this Internet." She held up a hand to her throat and glared down at the computer. "I think this room was much more appropriate as a guest bedroom."
"Perhaps Emmet would like it," Richard offered. "It could be our Christmas present to him."
Hyacinth pursed her lips and nodded tightly. "Perhaps I should warn him about the calibre of people on this Internet."
"Don't worry," Richard reassured, hiding a smile. "I'll do it." He also thought he could warn Emmet about the scandalous materials on the Internet. Perhaps they could take a look at the scandalous materials together. After all, Richard thought he ought to be more educated regarding computers and what better way than to use the Internet! "I'll go over right now and tell him."
Hyacinth gave him a grateful smile.