MIDWAY: In praise of the old
I remember when I bought my first mobile phone. I wasn’t convinced that I needed it, but I succumbed to peer pressure. I recall the shop assistant’s words - the lucky woman who made it to the final sale after three employees had crowded around me. “Now you’ve got it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it,’’ she smiled. I smiled back thinking she was a lunatic. “It’s just for emergencies,’’ I replied.
Six years on, I am constantly clutching my state-of-the-art piece, forever fretful of losing it. You should see my insurance bill, chosen under the deluded assumption that I may want to cancel my contract any time and checking it regularly in case of unheard calls or messages. What’s more, I’ve morphed into the type of person I previously despised. I phone people while I’m on the train, just to chat. I once used the phrase, “I’m just touching base.”
Earlier people turned up on time and carried photos of loved ones. I try to retain some aspects of my past, sociable self, and remain punctual, thus often emerging from the tube to my phone merrily alerting me to an apologetic message from a friend who’s running late.
This year I chose a sleek and advanced set. When I paraded it in front of my friends, one of them muttered: “You know, if I had this I might be happy.” I loaded it with ring tones, recorded sound bites and pictures. After 32 days, it refused to switch on. My heart sank. I took it to the store and after queuing for 20 minutes was told that although it could be fixed, I’d have to wait for at least two weeks and everything I had loaded would be lost. I felt a curious sense of having been reborn.
After being reassured that modern models crash all the time, I was given an ugly replacement. There was one big button to answer, close, select. The simplicity was as refreshing as stepping into a cool shower after a hot day. My mobile is too sophisticated and has displaced any social sophistication I may have had. I have since collected my phone, whose ring volume now fluctuates from silent to deafening. I can’t face the rigmarole of getting it repaired again. I’ve dug out my trusty old colourless, monophonic mobile along with my photos.