LIFE hasn’t been the same since I left my mobile telephone in a taxi. It was a yellow brick. I could dial a number without having to grope for a pair of glasses and it never got lost in the grim interior of an overcrowded handbag, so I didn’t have to scramble around like a ferret nesting.
Losing things through sheer carelessness is a nightmare. But the loss of what my children rudely called the yellow submarine was a breeze compared with losing my wallet.
Strangely enough, it is also yellow and I feel there may be a message of sorts in this coincidence, but I’m not quite sure what.
I went to dinner by taxi — another coincidence — and a friend gave me a lift home. The next morning, no wallet. No credit cards, no nothing. Someone, I thought, as horror throbbed through my veins, could at that very moment be buying a small country or a smart sports car with my husband’s money. The guilt, the guilt.
In the event, three hours later we had both cancelled all the cards. Cancelling the cards and so forth entailed speaking on the phone and holding on, using my shoulder to ram the phone against my ear while madly running through the streets to see whether I had dropped the wallet in a gutter and scrambling under the dinner table in the vain hope it had fallen from my bag.
This, of course, is where a mobile comes in handy. But not my new one, a small, black thing and a nasty piece of work at that. I often answer it upside down, which causes my children to snigger unkindly. It’s got a horrible ring tone, installed by my son, who was obviously in a very strange mood at the time. The noise it makes invited threats from colleagues when I left it on my desk and walked across the open- plan office on an urgent mission. When I reached the other end of the office I had, of course, forgotten what I was there for and by the time I got back angry co- workers were promising to throw me as well as the offending phone over a cliff. You’re not even safe at work these days. I’m definitely suffering a bout of phone rage: it’s doing the rounds, particularly on trains, where young women tell the world their life’s story by shouting wildly into their hands.
I’ve had calling cards made, which I hand out between stations. They have a picture of a yellow brick phone with a red circle around it and a forbidding line across the circle. It says: ‘‘ Please don’t shout on the phone. Thank you for your consideration.’’ It works. Just the other day a large blonde was getting stuck into her recalcitrant boyfriend, using blood- curdling language. Then she raised her head, took one look at my face — pursed lips, gimlet eyes, wiggling ears — and shouted: ‘‘ I’m coming to a tunnel, so goodbye and go to hell.’’ I’m on a roll: ring in the changes.
fraserj@ theaustralian. com. au