“Call me, maybe. Describe your relationship with your phone. Is it your life-line, a buzzing nuisance or something in between?”
I’ve never been a great fan of voice communication, and perhaps least of all by means of a telephonic device. As a child I was so cripplingly shy that to make an outgoing call was nothing short of a hideous ordeal. Even now, it’s not something I particularly care for. My idea of hell would be to have to work in a call-centre.
When I was growing up – and, indeed, well into the nineteen-seventies – ‘your phone’ was something big and probably made from bakelite that was wired in and sat on a table or specially designed piece of furniture in your hall, like a minor household god. There was even a waiting list to get one from the nationalized monopoly provider. I don’t think we had one of our own until about 1979.
Notwithstanding my almost paranoid dislike of telephones, however, I did not hesitate to buy a mobile at the earliest opportunity. This was entirely due to my already documented inability to resist the allure of ‘kit’. I still remember unwrapping that chunky bit of black plastic one Christmas morning, charging the battery and then spending the next couple of days trying to get through to the service provider so that I could register my number.
Once I was up and running, though, I found myself with the same problem I now have with my Twitter account – I didn’t know anyone else who had one, so who was I going to call?
Within a few years of these pioneering days, of course, the mobile was ubiquitous, and well on its way to becoming not merely indispensable but effectively compulsory. The big breakthrough came when things moved on from voice and text messages to the dawning of the age of the Blackberry. The City, with its insatiable appetite for information in real time, was certainly in the vanguard of this trend and I was swept along with it, albeit with some initial reluctance.
There will be those among my small but dedicated readership (hello darling) who will have raised their eyebrows at this point, recalling not-so-idle threats to have me surgically removed from my ‘Crackberry’ during family holidays. I have to plead guilty, but in mitigation it was only the information I was after – the share prices, the emails – and certainly not any compelling desire to communicate verbally with the outside world.
And anyway, that was then and this is now.
I do still have a mobile: who doesn’t? What’s more, the SIM card is in a Blackberry device, but it’s an old one and I’m most definitely not signed up to any data services. I’m on a pay-as-you-go contract with a French supermarket chain. Out of curiosity, I totted up how much I have spent on calls over the past six months.
So, my phone is neither a buzzing nuisance nor a life-line. But it does come in very handy for calling Madame’s mobile so we can find out where the hell it is.
Now, repeat after me: I do not need an iPhone; I do not need an iPhone; I do not need an iPhone….