I'm not a grumpy old man, just an out of synch hippy

Thursday, 28 February 2013


Smart phone or dumb guy?

We were looking for a restaurant in an unfamiliar area of London and were lost. We’d gone round in circles and I was getting hungry. Then one or our friends fished out her smartphone, got a GPS fix and we found the place in sixty seconds.

For ten minutes I gushed. What a leap forward for humankind this was! No more getting lost. No more failed pub quizzes. All knowledge available at the press of a button (except the crucial info on which button to push).

Then came ordering time. As the waiter hovered our friend dived for her phone again and began picking at it like a woodpecker. “Calorie count” she muttered, “Warm Brie Salad 550, NO!, er, Plate of Charcuterie 800 NO NO NO!!!”  She took a breath, forced a smile and muttered “I’ll have the buckwheat noodles.”

Across the restaurant I could see women checking their phones. A guy on the next table was on his alcohol app. The bottle of Shiraz he fancied was 10.2 units. “Low alcohol lager please” he said, with all the enthusiasm of a schoolboy asked by teacher to read out his homework.

Other people mulled over their exercise app for next morning’s torture to work off the meal. Yet others were checking their bank balances before deciding to slip out and go to Macdonalds instead. Why don’t people turn these machines off? Because they’ve been told to expect a call from their partner. Or if they’re from a younger generation, from their mum.

That’s why I don’t have a smartphone. I like to enjoy my evenings out. If I want to find out where I am or how much I’m drinking, I order another bottle and these things cease to matter completely.
I never saw a phone as lovely as a bottle

But technology catches up with you in the end. Just this morning I finally woke up to the realisation that quill marks on parchment aren’t the best way to submit writing to editors. I took a breath and bought a typewriter. How did I get this stuff onto your screen? Easy – via my pigeon.

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