‘HOW TO UPDATE YOUR PARENTS’
THE FOURTH RIOTOUSLY FUNNY LOUIS THE LAUGH BOOK
‘This is a hilarious story … in an age where the issue of technology and social media addiction is becoming ever more topical and debated, ‘How to Update Your Parents’ provides a fresh outlook on the subject . . . in a thoroughly entertaining way.’
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‘A rip-roaringly hilarious adventure.’
THE BOOK TRUST
‘A great stocking filler for later this year.’
A CORNISH MUM
‘I would recommend you ask your parents to buy this book because it’s a very funny and enjoyable book.’
EMILY, THE MADHOUSE OF CATS AND BABIES
‘One of the funniest openings to a book I have read in quite a while . . . Louis narrates his story brilliantly and will have his readers in fits of laughter throughout.’
PARENTS IN TOUCH
‘I loved ‘How to Update Your Parents.’ Hugely entertaining and enjoyable but also thought-provoking too.’
JAKE HOPE, freelance reviewer who has judged all the top awards in children’s fiction.
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HOW TO UPDATE YOUR PARENTS
Louis and his younger brother Elliot hear shock news from their parents . . .
‘From eight o’clock tonight,’ announced Mum, ‘we’re having a digital detox, I think it’s called. No one will use any computers, laptops, iPhones, iPads …’
‘You’ve got to be joking,’ I cried.
‘We’re not,’ said Dad. ‘All electronic media will be banned in this house for one week, to start with.’
‘To start with!’ I jumped up.
‘Where are you going?’ asked Dad.
‘To ring Childline,’ I replied. ‘No child should be made to live without an iPhone.’
‘But we’re going to have such an excellent time,’ said Mum.
‘Doing what?’ asked Elliot.
‘Well for a start, we’re not only going to be playing board games at Christmas,’ grinned Dad. ‘We can play them whenever we want. Every night if we like.’
‘Just kill me now,’ I murmured.
‘But we can do other things too,’ said Mum brightly. ‘Like going for long walks.’
‘It’ll be freezing,’ I said.
‘And I hate walking,’ said Elliot.
‘Or we can go to the park,’ said Dad.
‘Play on the swings in January, you mean?’ I interrupted. ‘Everyone will think we’re insane.’ Then I thought of something else. ‘And how will we contact anyone?’
‘You’ll just have to do what your mum and I did way back in the 1970s and 1980s,’ grinned Dad, ‘use the trusty old landline.’
‘But none of our friends know our number,’ I said. ‘I don’t even know our number.’
‘You’ve got until eight o’clock to spread the deeply, tragic news, that your friends can only speak to you on an ordinary phone,’ said Mum. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to it.’
‘But I don’t want to,’ I said. ‘It’s just so weird.’
‘We’ll be the freaky kids,’ wailed Elliot. Then he added. ‘And what about doing homework?’
Mum replied. ‘We’ll talk to your teachers; tell them what we’re doing. And if the use of a computer is absolutely vital for a piece of work, you can switch it on in the living room, with your Dad or me supervising. But we will also have on the table some encyclopaedias, a dictionary and a Thesaurus…’
‘Mum, why bother with all that, you can find out anything on Google in seconds,’ I said.
‘This will be much more fun though,’ she said.
I stared at her. ‘Really Mum, Really?’
‘I’m taking a few days off work,’ she said, ‘so I will be here to help. And we do realise this requires more effort from you both, but it really will be worth it.’
‘You can guarantee that, can you?’ I asked.
‘I think we’re all going to benefit from this experiment – your dad and me too,’ said Mum. ‘And we can’t wait to get started.’
‘And really start connecting with each other again,’ said Dad…
Don’t miss what happens next, in the hilarious ‘HOW TO UPDATE YOUR PARENTS.’
|DIARY OF AN UNPLUGGED AUTHOR
By Pete Johnson
Monday May 30th
Today it starts.
My week without the Internet.
‘Why on earth would anyone want to do that?’ asks my nephew, Adam incredulously.
‘It’s his age,’ says Zoe, my niece authoratively.
Actually, I’m putting myself through something I made my characters endure in my new book, ‘How to Update Your Parents.’
‘Shouldn’t you have done this research before you wrote the book?’ asks a friend.
She has a point.
But I’m eager and hopeful and looking forward to living in the moment again.
Perhaps it really is my age.
Tuesday March 31st
Had a bit of a meltdown today.
I meet a friend at The Southbank and she is badly delayed. But as I do not have my mobile with me she is unable to make contact. So I pace about and worry she’s been in an accident. ‘I just had no way to let you know I was all right,’ she says when she finally turns up. She adds. ‘Once we all lived like this.’
And we did. So why does the absence of a mobile phone now make me feel so vulnerable?
It’s also rained the entire day, which only adds to my feeling of gloom.
Wednesday June 1st
Several times when I’m writing I want to look things up on Google and of course I can’t. Odd how out of touch with everything I feel. ‘So what’s been happening today?’ I keep asking friends on my landline, as if I’m stranded on a desert island. But one positive: I read the newspapers much more thoroughly than usual, and have discovered some excellent opinion pieces. Weather still ghastly though.
Thursday June 2nd
Some friends send me postcards, as a kind of joke. I also receive two letters. It is so cheering to receive interesting post again. This evening I reply to my letters. There is a pleasure to writing and reading letters, which no text or email can match. Perhaps it is just the greater effort needed.
During my teenage years and early twenties I wrote very long letters. I suspect few teenagers do this now. Have they just found other ways of expressing themselves? Or is there a part of them which is now unexplored? Answers on a postcard please.
Friday June 3rd
I always write the first draft of my books by hand. It frees me up. Then I put it on the computer. Only this week I’ve just ploughed on with the first draft.
And the writing has flowed like a dream. I haven’t written so swiftly – for ages. Is that a benefit of being unplugged? Certainly I’ve relished the lack of interruptions when I’m in the middle of a scene. No pings. No flagging up of notifications. No indulging of my bad habits either, like checking my Amazon rankings every hour or finding out what the latest twitter storm is (there’s a new one every two minutes)
If my phone is a friend, it’s an extremely demanding one, constantly wanting my attention. And you know what, I’ve just realised something. It expects too much from me.
We’ve so needed this break.
Saturday June 4th
I went out for a meal with friends tonight, and to show solidarity with me, everyone left their phones at home. All around us I notice how many people are chatting on their phones or texting. A group of teenagers seem to spend their entire meal snapping pictures with their phones.
‘What is happening to us?’ I ask. ‘Isn’t this all terrible manners or am I turning into an old fogey?’
‘I’d say the jury is still out on that one,’ grins a friend.
Sunday June 5th
Adam and Zoe visit me. ‘Weren’t you worried?’ asks Adam, ‘that someone might have wanted to contact you urgently – and wouldn’t have been able to?’
‘Yes they would, ’ I said. ‘Ring me on the landline.’
Adam and Zoe couldn’t have looked more astonished if I’d suggested communicating by flares in the sky.
‘I don’t even know the number of my landline,’ says Adam.
‘When I was growing up,’ I remind them, ‘there was only one phone in the whole house.’
‘In a way then,’ teases Zoe, ‘this week has been a bit like going back to your childhood.’
Zoe is right.
It has been a highly nostalgic time. It has also felt like a holiday, although I’ve written every day. And I feel freer and more relaxed. Have I also lived in the moment more? I suspect I have. Although I haven’t wandered about outside much as the weather has been so bleak.
Memo to self – next time go unplugged during a hot spell.
Would I do it again? Possibly.
Will I have Internet free days? Definitely.
My phone and I are going to be reunited tomorrow. But our trial separation has taught me a lot. From now on our relationship is going to be so different.
And totally on my terms.
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