For­get all those texts, it re­ally is good to talk

Chew­ing the fat with old friends

Perthshire Advertiser - - HCEOAVDIED­R-1H9ERDEIRE­CTORY -

One of the few re­cent bright spots has been the di­verse con­tact with friends.

While not on so­cial me­dia, my ‘nor­mal’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­sists of a bar­rage of short, chirpy, tex­ting and What­sAp­ping.

But where once I would think, type and ping in a mat­ter of sec­onds, now it’s all about the ac­tual voice.

As a child, we didn’t have mo­biles. The only method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion was the Bake­lite tele­phone in the hall, hav­ing won­der­fully for­mal lit­tle cir­cles in which to in­sert a teenage in­dex fin­ger. I would spend all day with my best friend, walk­ing home from school to­gether, then im­me­di­ately head for a cov­etous call to catch up on the in­ter­ven­ing 30 min­utes or less since our last en­counter.

In those days, of course, there weren’t any phone deals or pay plans; you sim­ply had an ac­count with BT and held off call­ing any­one (any­one, re­ally, un­less in dire straits) be­fore the dreaded 6pm dead­line when busi­ness rate charges fin­ished.

“I don’t know what on earth you find to talk about,” mum would ex­pos­tu­late.

Plenty, was the an­swer. It’s un­be­liev­able how one could elab­o­rate on the habits of the bi­ol­ogy de­part­ment’s pet ham­ster or the scan­dal of the sports day white lines be­ing a lit­tle less than straight. We could chew the fat for hours.

Then mo­biles ar­rived and con­ver­sa­tions got shorter. Then stopped.

Like most peo­ple, I have a lan­d­line to get broad­band and TV deals (in fact, do I ac­tu­ally need a lan­d­line at all? I have no idea). Hardly any­one ever uses the num­ber and mum ad­mit­ted re­cently that, de­spite us hav­ing been here for a decade, she is none the wiser to our num­ber.

But the lock­down has changed all that. So far, we’re very lucky – ev­ery­day, I thank my lucky stars for all the bless­ings that we have – but I do miss the so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, how­ever inane, crav­ing a daily dose of mean­ing­less chat. And so do many oth­ers, it seems. The old lan­d­line has sprung back into life be­cause, as one friend re­marked: “We have enough to worry about with coro­n­avirus, we don’t want mo­bile sig­nals pen­e­trat­ing the brain as well.”

In­deed.

I’ve heard from Greg in Ari­zona; tested for COVID this week and, turns out, had the virus back in Jan­uary and didn’t even know. Any­way, apart from that snip­pet, the weather’s in the high 20s and the cacti are do­ing well thank you.

Dun­can the pi­lot rang to tell me to say that he’s no longer a pi­lot and is now grow­ing ap­ples and run­ning a hol­i­day home in­stead. There’s ca­reer diver­sity for you.

Jo the jour­nal­ist is still work­ing and we en­joyed swap­ping sto­ries about var­i­ous food shop­ping ex­ploits.

Pauline the shop­keeper rang to tell me that she is busier than ever, fast be­com­ing the go-to per­son for vil­lage gos­sip and in­for­ma­tion.

Linda lives on a beach and, with a mu­tual ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the won­der­ful au­thor Erica James, we en­joyed an il­lu­mi­nat­ing con­ver­sa­tion about her lat­est epis­tle, ‘Notes from the Past.’

Less pos­i­tive was the news of a dear friend’s pass­ing. Not COVID, no, but the other ter­ri­ble C-word.

Dur­ing sev­eral sub­se­quent calls, his wife de­scribed, in de­tail, ar­range­ments for the pri­vate burial (only a hand­ful al­lowed), in­clud­ing the lone piper pay­ing his (dis­tant) re­spects and the tear-in­duc­ing bird­song at the grave­side.

Although a dif­fi­cult story to hear, tiny de­tails and in­nu­en­dos added colour and con­nec­tion that would be im­pos­si­ble via text.

De­spite the cur­rent cri­sis, there is much for which we must be grate­ful.

I, along with many oth­ers, should of­fer a spe­cial thank you to that fine Scot, Alexander Gra­ham Bell, who de­liv­ered a life­line at this time of iso­la­tion when you re­ally, re­ally need to talk about the price of fish.

I do miss the so­cial in­ter­ac­tion - crav­ing a daily dose of mean­ing­less chat

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