It’s a funny old world: Arthur Smith
In 2002, following a serious illness, I set off on a long, convalescent solo ramble round the Cornish coast path, walking gently along the cliffs and stopping overnight at humble B&Bs (long before the word ‘Air’ got in front of them). Concerned that I might topple off a rock into the waves and no one would notice me, my wife
Beth bought me my first-ever
I didn’t fall into the sea but unfortunately the phone did. I confessed to Beth that evening from a phone box and went another year unmobilised until it became apparent that, without one, I’d probably never work again. ‘What do you mean you can’t contact him? Hasn’t he got a mobile?’ My next, clunky, grey phone served me well, happy to just nestle in my pocket bleeping sporadically and feeling no need to come on holiday with us. After it chose to stay on a train I’d got off, I bought one that wanted to be a BlackBerry. Now, again encouraged
by Beth, I have finally joined the 700 million people who own an iPhone.
No doubt, I’ve the settings wrong but the thin, shiny oblong seems to demand constant attention and never ceases to suggest ways it can help me – ‘Cooee! Come on, Arthur, look at me! Why don’t I pay all your bills, answer any question you can think of, put you in touch with everyone in the world, tell you where you’re going, take over your bank account, be your train ticket? And, emoji, do you want to hang out with me and some of my pals? There’s loads of us – Twitter, Wiki, WhatsApp, Uber, Viber, Deliveroo, Siri – they’re a right laugh! Look they’re here waiting for you. Oh hang on, I need charging. Charge me, Arthur, there are no chargers where you’re going and come on, you can’t go without me!’
You might conclude from all this that I’m a grumpy old man who will never get a booking in Silicon Valley and whose algorithms date from so far back he still puts letters in post boxes. It’s true I am suspicious of my iPhone’s ability to tell the world where I am at any given moment, and of its desire to learn everything about me. I’m also trying to resist becoming one of those people who sits opposite you in the restaurant, gazing at their wrist. And yet… I want to send Beth a funny picture of where I am, I want to post a gag to my rambling WhatsApp pals, see if anyone’s replied to my tweet, work out if it’s left or right at the top of the road… Oh dear, it’s happened. I shall continue to refuse to learn
all its tricks and resist its infinite offerings but I now realise that I’d feel lost without the damn thing!
This week’s columnist: Author and TV writer