THE LAST WORD
With Neil Haverson
Oh horror of horrors! I charged my mobile phone recently, 20 minutes later I went to use it and it was dead. Frantically I pressed all the buttons. Nothing.
Thoughts began piling into my mind. What if the kids wanted to contact me? Suppose the car broke down. If Mrs H and I are out shopping and split up, a quick call or text means we can arrange to meet up. Now, we could be wandering the streets for hours looking for each other.
I plugged the charger in again in case that jolted it into life. Still nothing. The battery must be dead.
We were visiting our son in Nottingham at the time. I announced that I was incommunicado. The generation gap then manifested itself. Calmly he took the phone from me, pressed two buttons simultaneously for a few seconds and hey presto, the screen burst into life.
I heaved a sigh of relief. But why did I get in such a lather? It’s not so long ago mobiles didn’t exist. We managed okay then, but we’ve come to rely on the damn things. Admittedly they are a huge benefit, providing a ready means of communication and reassurance if an emergency crops up.
I mean, years ago, when the car broke down, you could be stuck in the middle of nowhere – no phone box for miles.
But take the issue of Mrs H and me shopping. All we did was arrange a time to rendezvous in a particular place. This had the bonus of putting a time limit on Mrs H’s protracted activities with the credit card.
Mind you, that only worked if we synchronised watches - and there were occasions when Mrs H scuppered the system by going out with a bare wrist.
Ah, now talking of watches, that brings up another technological issue that struck me a cruel blow. Last Christmas, presumably in an effort to keep me in service as long as possible, Mrs H bought me a Fitbit. This is the gadget you wear on your wrist that not only tells you the time and date but monitors among other things how many steps you take in a day, your heartbeat, sleep pattern and how much exercise you do. It also lets you know when you receive a text or a phone call – providing your mobile isn’t dead, of course.
I know there have been lots of comments that these gizmos are inaccurate. Well that may be, but for me it provides a focus, something to use as a target. Based on no criteria whatsoever as far as I can see, it recommends you take 10,000 steps a day – just under five miles. If I find I’m hovering around 4,000 I know I really should stagger from the sofa and get active.
Motivational messages flash regularly on its tiny screen urging you to get up and go, and an app gives a weekly summary of how well you are performing.
Well, suddenly Haverson’s little helper was no longer on my wrist. The strap had broken. Luckily the Fitbit caught in my pocket, otherwise I could easily have lost it.
Oddly this was the second failure that befell me in Nottingham. We were not near any shops so I went online and ordered a replacement – but it would take four days to arrive. So once again I was plunged into a life without electronic support.
Suppose my heart rate took off, how would I know? What if I wasn’t getting enough sleep? Even more ridiculous, I took our son’s dog for a walk and found myself thinking: “All these steps I’m missing out on.”
The new strap arrived. Hastily I put the Fitbit on my wrist. All this stress of no mobile and no Fitbit, I just had to know.
Phew! My heart rate was normal.