River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Notes from a Newcomer

March 2006

Marion is amazed by the wide-spread use of mobile phones regardless of age.

Looking out of my window, I have just seen a snowy-haired woman calmly take her ringing mobile from her handbag and, putting it to her ear, chat away as casually as a teenager. Nothing unusual in that, you might think, but I'm mightily impressed and even a little bit jealous.

My hair is not white yet but I struggle to get to grips with the mobile habit. I know that failure to use one is even more ageing than a wobbly second chin and sensible shoes but, try as I might, I still think of my mobile as something that should only be used in an emergency - such as the car breaking down or letting someone know I'll be late for an appointment.

When not in use, it is switched off and stowed away in a grannyish patchwork spectacle case. Needless to say, nobody ever calls me on that number because they know it is unlikely to be turned on. In the rare event of it ringing, it doesn't occur to me that the unfamiliar sound could be anything to do with me so I ignore it, wondering vaguely why people are turning to look accusingly in my direction. By the time it has dawned on me that it is my mobile making that noise, and I've scrabbled around in my handbag and retrieved it from its pouch, my caller has usually given up in despair.

Since part of my reluctance to use the handy little gadget arises from the cost, the idea of texting appeals because it is cheap so, in a rudimentary way, I have mastered that art. When I say rudimentary, you will understand that my thumb does not flick dextrously across the keys, using cunning abbreviations like 4 instead of 'for' or l8 instead of 'late', but I can (laboriously) pt tgthr sum srt of msge.

A yawning gulf exists between folk like me who only use their mobiles on a strictly 'needs must' basis and those who walk along the street with the thing apparently grafted to the side of their head. Few people can complete a train journey these days without making at least one phone call and there is always someone in the carriage whose philosophy appears to be 'I phone therefore I am'. They spend the entire time dialling and chatting.

Being extremely nosey, I eavesdrop shamelessly but the level of conversation is usually sadly banal. Just a load of stuff about which station is coming up next and what time they will be home for dinner. Hardly worth the effort of turning up my hearing aid (only joking).

If I'm in the right mood and it isn't too draughty standing in the hall, I might talk for quite a while on the landline. But sometimes I rather envy my grandmother who, even if she was halfway through a sentence, would exclaim "There's the pips!" and slam the receiver back in its cradle. For those who don't know what the pips were or why a phone had a cradle - dnt wry, its hstry.

Marion Clarke

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