The age of certainty
I HAVE renamed my iPhone the iPet. During a recent cruise along a river in Normandy with little access to landlines, I became increasingly annoyed at how much of my attention it was commanding. Even its ring tone sounded like a mewing kitten.
I would change handbags according to the nature of outings, sometimes as often as three times a day, and so would have to nestle iPet into a new carrier and check on its wellbeing — stroke its face, talk soothingly to it, listen for signs of communication and, on one occasion when iPet went missing, ask fellow cruisers to join a searchand-rescue mission.
It didn’t take long to find iPet. There it was, on the ground near a cafe table; I shouldn’t have been the least surprised if it were leashed to the leg of a chair like one of those small white carry-dogs with flat faces of which the French are so fond.
I was travelling with a group of energetic seniors and far from being not the least bit au fait with mobile technology, they were thoroughly hooked up, but not to iPhones. They preferred to take holiday snaps with their iPads, which of course have larger screens and require less dexterity of the fingertips and don’t talk back and interrupt your morning macarons and madeleines.
WiFi access was usually fast and easy on our river cruise so my fellow passengers would be emailing mer- rily and downloading pictures and keeping up with the international news and updating their bucket lists. Tick, tick, tick. It made me feel like lying down in my cabin with my French phrasebook and looking up the translations for tired and inadequate.
It’s a myth that senior holiday-makers are over the hill or want sedentary experiences. From my observations they are almost overwhelmingly curious and full of good cheer, eager to spend their retirement and golden years wisely and well.
‘‘This is hardly a reconnaissance trip,’’ announced the 75-ish Charlotte from East Sussex. ‘‘Not much point thinking I’ll come back here. This is it.’’
And with not a moment to waste, off she went to walk the cobblestoned streets of seaside Honfleur to look for galleries and somewhere she could find a good pot of tea. Later she reported to me that a glass of rose was cheaper than a cuppa, a discovery that had pleased her no end, gathering by the pink flush to her handsome cheeks. And there I was worried about the constant demands of iPet and the ageing effects of alcohol.
Next morning Charlotte and I stepped out together on a shore excursion and she snapped a whole village, from church spires to summer flowers, on her iPad, with champers and cream cakes to follow.
I left iPet in my cabin, firmly secured by its lead.