Mobile phones, a blessing and a curse

Saturday 15th October 

For many years I resisted owning a mobile phone; Edward had one, and I tended to use our house phone. But when he had gone I decided to become one of the almost ubiquitous masses, and get myself my very own mobile phone.  I remember the argument in the shop when I insisted that all I wanted was to make and receive calls, and the slimy little salesman, who looked as if he had only just stopped wearing short trousers, kept trying to sell me phones with e-mail and internet access and free downloads and all sort of Apps, even including one that would show me the constellations above my head whichever way I pointed the phone. “Who cares”, I felt like screaming, “All I want is to make and receive calls.” In the end I won, and rather shamefacedly, looking guiltily around, he pulled a tiny handset out of a display and muttered that I would be wanting one of these then, almost as if I were asking him to sell me pornography under the counter.  Admittedly the thing does take photos and I have texted occasionally, but all I really need is to be able to let people know I am on my way, or that a train is delayed, which can be a blessing when, through no fault of one’s own, you are late for an appointment.  Another clever thing is that when I forgot a password on a website, (I mean how on earth are you expected to remember them all, when you are specifically advised not to use the same password everywhere, and some require a minimum of 8 digits, some of which must be numbers) and they asked me to confirm my mobile phone number, almost the second after I had pressed enter, my mobile buzzed and I had the password as a text message, I was really impressed, very helpful indeed. Oh, and my dentist texts me the day before and the morning of my appointment to remind me, though I suspect that this is automated too.

But another part of me really hates them; you cannot take a bus journey now without a chorus of inanity as, almost in unison, all and sundry are shouting (why can they not just speak quietly) “I’m on the bus,” into their mobiles, or young girls talking constantly to their friends; ”and then he said…and I said…..yeah, that’s right….I know…..and then he said” I mean, who needs it, and is any of it remotely necessary; most of the time they will be meeting the person they are talking to the minute they get off the bus anyway – but it ruins the journey for me, thank-you, having to listen to it all. I do not need to know all the intimate details of your life, so kindly keep them to yourself!

And even having a meal with a friend is ruined by their mobile ringing, and rather than close it, or switch it off before the meal as I do, they actually take the call, and act as if you aren’t even there; you could be taking your clothes off in front of them for all the notice they take of you, and what do you do; carry on eating while they are talking to someone else completely or sit and wait while both our dinners get cold. I have even seen a whole table of twenty-somethings, all playing with their phones, or texting or looking at photos or reading e-mails while waiting for the next course to arrive, all sublimely in different universes but sitting at the same table.  I always thought that meals were meant to bring people together, but somehow I have obviously been mistaken all these years.

And on the rare occasion that I leave the thing at home, despite a moments panic when I discover what I have done, I sink back into the luxury of not being contactable at all – ah bliss!!!