Ring Ring: Time to check into the real world

“Hello! Yeah! I’m on my phone!”Dom Jolly


The tube is a wonderful device.

Yesterday, like Paul McCartney, all my troubles seemed so far away and I allowed strangers to envelop my psyche: I spied an over-the-age chap reading The Catcher in the Rye, eavesdropped a French woman talk to her “Cheri” and satisfyingly understood it all standing alongside two exuberant girls gossiping relentlessly.

But, most humans were plugged into various telecommunication devises.

Stop all the clocks – like Auden suggested – and please cut off the telephones. Indeed, the telephone: Our slave. The mistress. Our sanctuary?

Before I come off the long run and berate the bally thing, I must say that I couldn’t live without it. Aside from my iPad, and the occasional novel, it is the first and last thing I observe. However, the amount of well-dressed people gormlessly gazing into a tiny little screen is somewhat shocking.

Many have perfected an earnest face, which creates the disingenuous veneer of reading an important email from a frightfully important person, but is shattered when one realises that the impeccably dressed gentleman is playing Candy Crush. I am a lucky old thing, in that I have no desire to play computer games especially on a phone!

Nevertheless, I am obsessed with my little screen: WhatsApp, BBC Sport, Facebook and Twitter are my vices and barely a moment goes without me checking them.

However, I am able to sit with company in the real world and have a genuine discussion without checking ‘the dictator’ in my pocket, well mostly – cricket scores notwithstanding!

Only last week, I was sat in an unmentionable coffee shop – whose colour is green – sipping on sweet milky coffee and nibbling on a carrot cake when I spied two girls of eighteen hammering away on their phones.

The two ingénues were sat close to each other but were so engrossed in their iPhone’s were they that neither uttered a syllable. Occasionally the blonde Americano would look up at the brunette Mocha and thrust her iPhone forward and, with doe eyes, wait for approval. A small frisson of silence was interrupted by a sharp cackle from the Mocha who was joined momentarily by the Americano. Swiftly and, I must say, elegantly the pair returned to gaze to their phones and the silence wedged back into the table, with a back background beat of tapping thumbs and slurping of coffee.

While it is easy to be snooty and suggest that it is purely a generational shift and an issue for the feckless youth, it is not. There are people well beyond retirement age who revel in the medium: The sharing of digital pictures is unquestionably a boon to a banal WhatsApp chat and if one finds oneself on a white sandy beach it is rude not to share the idyll with one’s entire twitter and Facebook readership.

Needless to say, alcohol and phones is an ill-advised combination – a volatile concoction, the Liz Taylor and Richard Burton of technology. Nevertheless, the amount of inebriated newts one sees tapping away on Saturday nights with sloppy fingers and bleary eyes is enough to stoke a thousand divorces. And, when that happens it is off to single life where nowadays they must join the ranked masses of lonely loonies on on-line dating, however, that is separate blog altogether!

To think that we are in a dystopian age of selfish introverted antisocialism is folly; we are humans and have been like this since. He created us on the sixth day. In fact, I often write these merry blogs on the tube, using my mobile, which is nothing revolutionary; the great author Anthony Trollope used to do the same on the train in the nineteenth century and talk to none. Sadly, that is where the comparison with Trollope ends. Moreover, the phone has surely replaced the commuter’s novel and the ostentatious broadsheets of yore.

Rest assured, dear reader, that only place to remove your mobile fix in this winter of discontent is on the squash court or at the bar; and rest assured, this red treasured man will be found at both.  




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