So, having spent part two of this weekend-long whinge detailing some of the many things that I do not ‘do’ on my mobile phone (parts one and two are here) I suppose I ought to wind it up by looking at one or two of the things that I do. After all, I wouldn’t want you thinking that I’m an old weirdo, would I?
I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge: what I don’t know, I Google. (Other search engines are available – although nobody ever uses them.) My Google searches are usually complicated, often involving the quest to find the name of an actor who used to be in a programme, the title of which escapes me just for the minute, with another actor whose name I cannot recall, who used to be in something else with somebody different. Sometimes I find what I am looking for, but more often than not I get distracted along the way and wind up attempting to watch a long-lost episode of Dad’s Army in the mistaken belief that it is the news.
Then we come to the various ‘banking’ apps that litter my phone. Of late, the phone has become an integral security level for every other platform of banking. Actually going into the bank and talking to someone is severely frowned upon. I now have an algorithm, rather than a bank manager, to tell me that I am overdrawn. I have started, in these troubled times, to use Apple Pay and I am amazed at how easy it all is, although it does occur to me that if somebody had stolen my mobile phone ten years ago, they might have been able to have a fairly lengthy conversation with their mother in Australia at my expense. Now, they could probably visit her. I have to guard my phone like the Crown Jewels and protect my authorising finger against all damage. My finger print opens my phone, I dare not rely upon facial recognition. I have a passport that has not allowed me back into the country for the last seven years. If you have ever seen a man at passport control being yelled at to ‘Go to the desk at the end,’ that man was probably me. Last year I had to queue behind three young ladies coming home from Dubai who had, as far as I could see, walked into many doors along the way. They had, it transpired, been to a ‘beauty clinic’ whilst on holiday with the net effect that they would not have been recognised by their own mothers, let alone an overworked CPU. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was the bit doing the talking, I’m not sure I would have known where the face was meant to be. It was a good job that they had all had their names tattooed in Arabic on their backs. When it came to be my turn at the desk, I handed over the errant passport. The passport officer looked at it, he looked at me, and he said, ‘Have you got any other proof of identity?’ I said, ‘Not on me. It’s all in my wife’s bag.’ He sighed the sigh of the deeply bored and said ‘Fine,’ before waving me through. I have no idea why the computer couldn’t do that.
Despite the fact that I am, by and large, unable to follow moving images on the tiny screen offered by my phone, I do spend a large proportion of my idle-life staring at BBC News and BBC Sport – because I am both very old and very, very sad. I have this need to know what is going on. I do not know why. Why do I need to know what is going on in the world, when half the time I have no idea of what is going on between my ears? My phone brings the news to me instantly: I am constantly updated, informed and, at the same time, ever more helpless. The world crumbles about me in real time and I run around with a silicone gun I cannot use and a refill I have forgotten to chop the end off. There is little in this world that makes me feel more useless than the hopelessness of others.
I have a QR reader. The post-Lockdown world has forced me to become familiar with it. It reads those odd little square barcode things that fill the bottom right hand corner of almost all shop window advertisements. It takes me to pages of information, in which I have no interest, about companies from which I once bought a pair of pants or a burger (seldom both). It has always been the most useless of apps on my phone – although I realise that, should I ever want to return to the pub, it will become the most vital. It is the only way I will now be able to entice the bar staff to bring me the wrong drinks to the wrong table with fifteen packets of pork scratchings and a maraschino cherry for my dry martini; it is the only way that I will be able to order scampi and chips and to get soup in a basket. This is the New Normal App. I preferred the old normal. At least whatever beer ended up slopped down my crotch was my own.
And finally, I have a weather app, because I don’t like looking out of the window…
So, there we are; end of part three and all I (currently) have to say about my mobile phone. I did consider, by way of an experiment, posting this week’s posts straight from my phone, but I’m pretty sure that I would have just ended up ordering a tartan dog bed or signing up for banjo lessons, so it will be posted in the normal way, through my laptop. One of these days I must take a look at what’s on there…