THE LAST WORD

Re­tired for­mer ed­i­tor Neil Haver­son has evolved into new man. And now, he’s even got a man bag to prove it. Here he ex­plains ev­ery­thing ...

Let's Talk - - CONTENT - by Neil Haver­son

With Neil Haver­son

The quotes of Grou­cho Marx al­ways make me smile.

“Mar­riage is a won­der­ful in­sti­tu­tion, but who wants to live in an in­sti­tu­tion?”

Or: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a mem­ber.” One in par­tic­u­lar strikes a chord: “Those are my prin­ci­ples, and if you don’t like them ... well, I have oth­ers.”

There are, in­deed, times when I feel a bit of hyp­ocrite. Sev­eral years ago I made a dec­la­ra­tion upon which I have since back­tracked.

It was in the very early days of mo­bile phones. We were shop­ping for cur­tains when that wretched Nokia ring broke the si­lence. As peo­ple did in those days – and some still do – the owner be­gan bawl­ing into his phone as if he was on a storm-bound trawler in the North Sea.

I turned to Mrs H and stated cat­e­gor­i­cally that I would never have one of those damned in­tru­sive things. No sir, I wasn’t go­ing to be the owner of some­thing that shat­tered the peace. And why would I want to have a con­ver­sa­tion in the pres­ence of the gen­eral pub­lic?

Fast for­ward and I am now the owner of a smart phone. To Mrs H’s an­noy­ance, I con­stantly check emails, keep up with the news and de­liver hourly re­ports on the weather.

I left home with­out it the other day and felt com­pletely ex­posed. How had I once been able to go out with­out the abil­ity to con­tact base to clar­ify such crit­i­cal is­sues as which cheese I was sup­posed to buy?

Mind you, they are now so com­mon­place. The var­i­ous ring­tones are quite en­ter­tain­ing, and let’s face it, we all love ear­wig­ging some­one else’s con­ver­sa­tion, es­pe­cially if things get a bit frac­tious.

And I don’t know how we would have coped with­out a mo­bile when the car broke down on a re­mote part of the Isle of Skye.

When I re­tired, an­other prin­ci­ple was shelved. I bought a gizmo I had vowed was just a lux­ury. I in­vested in a tablet.

Years ago I would at­tend meet­ings with col­leagues who had no more than a folder plus a pad and pen. Then they were com­ing in plonk­ing down their mo­bile phones. They bleeped and chimed as emails rained in around the room. Oc­ca­sion­ally one would ring. “Ex­cuse me, I must just take this.” Prob­a­bly the wife say­ing don’t for­get to get some milk, but it looked im­pres­sive.

And then they added tablets to their para­pher­na­lia. At the slight­est query they would be tap­ping away on the screens, vy­ing to be first with the an­swer. I would scoff at such an­tics.

Now I can be seen late at night check­ing when the next sea­son of Poldark will be aired.

But my ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice of a prin­ci­ple has just oc­curred. I have a man bag. There was a time I would be on my soap box pon­tif­i­cat­ing that bags are for women. Won’t catch ma­cho me with one over my shoul­der. Then lap­tops bags were ev­ery­where. They mor­phed into men’s bags.

My son got one for col­lege. I was weak­en­ing, but for years I held out.

I be­gan to crack dur­ing the sum­mer when I went out with­out a jacket. A chap has im­por­tant things to carry. A wal­let stacked with credit, debit and loy­alty cards – well if you don’t carry them all you can bet the one you want is at home. There’s the phone, of course; car keys, house keys and then I’d buy some­thing and cram into my al­ready bulging pock­ets. I must have looked de­formed. So now I have a smart black over-theshoul­der bag.

Oh and guess what. It’s got a pouch for my phone and a com­part­ment for my tablet.

Grou­cho Marx.

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