A Life in a Year – 10th March, The Curse of Mobile Phones

On 10th March 1876 Alexander Graham Bell made his first telephone call and now no one can stop using the infernal contraption.

I know that they are a useful addition to modern life but I went to London for a couple of days this week and on my return train journey I had the misfortune to select a seat in a carriage full of serial mobile phone users.  I am grateful for mobile phones of course but I wish people would have the good manners to use them considerately and have a thought for other people when they do so.  In virtually every public place you go now people are shouting into mobile phones and there are few things more irritating than being compelled to eavesdrop on one half of a conversation.  The worst place of all is on the train where dozens of commuters insist daily on competing with each other to have the loudest conversation which all end at exactly the same time with the words “Just a minute I’m going into a tunnel, hello, hello, HELLO, HELLO”, followed by frantic animated redialing, a repeated conversation and another tunnel, followed by…. 

The only place that it is safe from mobile phone madness is in an aeroplane and I have been distressed to learn that soon this last sanctuary will be removed because Ryanair are proposing imminently to allow their use on board; I can imagine it now “Just a minute I’m going into some turbulence, hello, hello, HELLO, HELLO”, followed by frantic animated redialing, a repeated conversation and more turbulence, followed by….

This will only add to the customary indiscipline of airline passengers.  I have noticed that almost as soon as a plane lands there is a clattering of seat belts being unbuckled before the seat belt light goes off, impatient rummaging through the overhead lockers to retrieve bags and the intensely irritating sound of mobile phones being switched on and the beep-beep of text messages being delivered.  Why can’t people do as they are told? You are not supposed to switch on mobile phones until in the terminal building, why can’t people wait?  These are two-hour flights to central Europe not a five-year mission to Mars!  One man even made a phone call simply to say ‘I’ve landed’, so what? was the recipient of the call going to run a flag up or turn a cartwheel or something.

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