LAST LOOK

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View - JANE FRASER

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

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