Today I left my phone at home. Not on purpose mind but by accident. What a bizarre experience.
When mobile (cell) phones first became popular fashion accessories I was reluctant to get one. I recall a conversation I had in 1998 with Big Gay Gary from HSE about mobile telephones.
Big Gay Gary – Look at my new phone. Look. Everybody look at my phone. Aren’t I just fantastic! You don’t have a phone because you are not as fashionable as me. But look as I pick it up and us it like I’m in a catalogue. Gosh I look so suave and sophisticated. The boys will be clammering to get my trousers off in Garlands. Not that I’d bum them of course because bumming is not good.
stegzy – Gary, it makes you look like a twat.
Big Gay Gary – Nonsense, I’m a fashionable gay now. EVERYBODY LOOK AT HOW COOL I AM.
I said to myself I wouldn’t venture into the realms of mobile telephony. After all who would call me? Nobody. Well…maybe Clopper Gnomepants or someone to tell me I’ve got a job or something, but no. I’d have nothing to do with such things.
Then Derek-what-loves-himself (who also worked in HSE) said:-
Derek-what-loves-himself – I have a pager. Look at me. I have a pager. All the girls will be wanting to suck me off because I have a pager.
stegzy – But why have you got a pager? Surely people don’t page you. You’re hardly popular.
Derek-what-loves-himself – I have a pager because my mum can tell me when my tea is ready and it doesn’t cost as much as a mobile telephone.
stegzy – Ah I see.
So I went out and bought a pager. I had my pager (and accompanying software) for some years. People could page me from their computer, Clopper Gnomepants could send me cheeky little text messages and girls would approach me in the street and offer to suck my penis. I resisted the urge for mobile telephony, seeing it as a fad in much the same ilk as those laser disc things or those mini-disc players that people seemed to flaunt in similar ways.
Then I crumbled. I can’t remember exactly how. It was something to do with Clopper Gnomepants not being able to answer the telephone at home and we were awaiting something. I’m not too sure, but somehow I gave in to peer pressure and purchased my first mobile telephone. It was a chunky affair. Pay as you go. I think it was a Sony Ericsson though it might have been a Motorola. It felt weighty in my pocket and I felt suave and sophisticated. I think I still have it somewhere. But that day was D-Day. I had entered into a lifestyle which many of us today accept as norm. From there on I had a new telephone regularly. I bought into the “it’s not just a telephone-it’s a fashion accessory” idiom. I would take my telephone out in polite company and lay it on the table in front of me. I would regularly check to see if I had missed a text or telephone call and I would present my telephone to those I was with as if I was more important than them because I had the need to constantly check my telephone.
Then today I left my telephone at home. I left it by accident. I had the need to make telephone calls which I would have ordinarily made while I was on the go. However not being strong enough to lift up the red cast iron telephone box I was forced to enter the tramps piss palace that is a public call box. The first thing I noted was how few of them there are now. Not just the iconic red ones, they have been in decline since the mid 80’s, but the new smoked glass “I could be in any Western European City” ones. The second thing was how much the minimum fee now was. When I was a lad (when a good percentage of you were still but faint stirrings in your father’s underpants), telephone calls from public telephones were about 5p for 3 minutes. Granted by the early 90’s this had increased to 10p. But now you’re looking at 40p! Forty Pence! Thats a hell of an increase. Ok you get 20 minutes to a land line but still! 40 PENCE! Thats 4 bags of beef Space Raiders! (or 2 bags of Spicy Transform-a-Snaks).
The third thing was mid journey from Barnsley to Pontefract I became entangled in traffic. I was going to be late for work. I know, I thought, I’ll call in and say I’ll be late. But I couldn’t. Because I didn’t have my telephone. Even so, at frequent moments through the day I have patted my pocket to look and see if I’ve got my phone, do I have any messages? Has anyone called me? But you see, the likelyhood of anyone calling or texting me anyway is so remote I have no fucking idea why I carry the thing around with me (let alone pay £35 a month for the privilege of having my nads fried by ELF radiation).
So why not try it yourself. See how naked and bizarre you feel when you leave your cellular (mobile) telephone at home.
Frankly I feel a little liberated.