28th June 2011 at 16:07 #460596
Anonymous28th June 2011 at 16:07 #460597
In which our correspondent explains why, when he’s on the road, there’s no companion like a mobile…
Once upon a time, my struggles with technology amounted to trying to turn over the tape in my waterproof yellow Walkman while taking a dip in the hotel pool. Fortunately, things have progressed somewhat and now, when I head to the gym, I join the white earphone clan bobbing up and down on the running machines.
If the iPod changed the way we listen to music, then surely the mobile phone changed everything else. Communicating with the office while travelling is one of them. I can’t even eat a muffin in the lounge without some busybody from work wanting to check one last thing before I get on the plane. It’s as if I am going to the moon.
Don’t these people know they will be able to reach me two and a half hours later when I am settled in my hotel? What could possibly be so urgent? If they had found out my wife had made a run for it, maybe – but even that I think could wait until I was tucked away in a comfortable hotel room, with slippers and a minibar, rather than sitting with a warm chocolate muffin in a room full of people just as miserable as me.
Talking of my wife, I believe the mobile phone has probably helped our relationship while I am on the road. When she asks me to send her a text message confirming my safe arrival in Harare, or even Hull, I can do so with my eyes half shut, while punching my pillow into shape and kicking off the rank length of cloth that hotels insist on draping across the foot of the bed.
There have been a few misunderstandings, granted – predictive text can be so cruel, it’s almost as if my phone is willing me to live a different and more exciting life – but on the whole my wife is happy I am on the end of the phone, rather than by her side.
Apart from improving communication, my mobile has become my trusted travelling companion. When I am away I fall asleep with it inches from my face – it’s the last thing I look at before I drift off, secure in the knowledge that if it is by my side, so is my family, office and a few gas and electricity folk who don’t seem to recognise a foreign ringtone.
So I fall asleep with my phone and, in the morning, when I have to head out for an early meeting, it wakes me up. Gone are the harsh bleeping alarms that manufacturers used to torture us with (when even sound effects are dated, you know how fast technology is moving). These days, I awake to a group of angels plucking at harps gently in my ear. I feel dreamy, relaxed and do not throw my phone across the room.
In fact, I am in love with my phone. I have apps that can tell me where to park at the airport and whether my flight is running late. It sometimes even becomes my boarding card, or tells me which gate to head to when I am frantically trying to choose a new scent in duty-free for “her indoors”. I’ve kept all of my mobiles, too – no one is going to fool me into handing over my personal data for 20 quid.
Really, I am just amazed at how far technology and I have progressed together. My whole relationship with it is defined by the number of phones, diminishing in size and weight, I have in my bedside drawer. One day I will frame them alongside Darwin’s ape-to-man drawing and feel happy I am a man and no longer a monkey.
Having said that, not so long ago, I did actually behave quite like a monkey on a flight to JFK. Slipping backwards in my seat, with a glass of champagne already stimulating sparkly thoughts in my head, I suddenly realised I had left my mobile switched on in the overhead locker.
Remembering the flight attendant’s warning that phones could interfere with the equipment on the plane – and not wanting Armageddon to be traced back to my trusty little device – I flung my seatbelt off with such force that people stared at me in alarm. Little did they know that I was saving their lives as I yanked my bag out and felt for the ticking bomb. After a few grimaces, I found it and discreetly turned it off while looking around at my unsuspecting passengers – none of them had realised how close they were to the jaws of death, had I had one more glass of champagne.
It was only when we arrived and everyone was getting their bags down that I heard the harps. Yes, my phone had remained loyal to the last and turned itself back on for the alarm. A few people frowned as I fiddled around with it to stop the noise, the music getting ever louder, my face getting ever redder. Sometimes, despite best efforts, technology will always leave you floundering.
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