It only takes a button

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

The wonders of the modern world never cease to amaze or in a lot of cases, amuse.

With all the adverts and suchlike in either the press, TV or even at the cinema, you can’t fail to have noticed that the item that was once the mobile phone has now morphed into the equivalent of some space age device that can ‘save the universe’ with all it’s assumed amazing feats it can perform.

Sadly the only letdown being the person using it to get the said device to perform these minor electronic miracles and from this point on will be referred to as being the part that is all down to ‘human error’.

The latest or was by the time you read this, was another mindboggling ‘aid’ or app that has been thought up, means you can switch on your home central heating (for a fee of course...) via your mobile phone and select a temperature should you have not had the foresight to have set the thermostat before you went out and in the same process utilise the timer feature accordingly.

This innovation of being able to switch said heating on was seemingly lost on a lady recently who was being informed of this wonderful new, to her, technology in a branch of a well known electrical retailer as she was thinking of upgrading her phone and have you noticed, mobile phones don’t wear out but are upgraded these days and usually every few days in some cases.

This comes about usually because somebody they know has done it and got a newer model and its called ‘Keeping Up With The Phones’ and possibly takes the heat away from the Jones’s, who must lead a quieter life nowadays as nobody bothers to keep up with them anymore, seemingly, and she was unbelievably not aware of this new ‘feature’ and after hearing the sell-speak replied to the sooper salesman: “I still prefer the old way myself as I just ring my husband and tell him to put it on if he’s home before me...”

So that is well sorted then.

When the first mobile phones were introduced many light years ago now it would seem, I was unfortunate enough in one instance of travelling by train to London and in the seat opposite (posh or what? – I actually got a seat which in some cases is bit of a novelty or result of a raffle these days) was somebody who, about 15 minutes into the journey, got this marvel of the age out of his bag that was basically the size and weight of a house brick and after a bit of button bashing, clamped it to his head and after a few minutes of it ‘warming up’ did spoke: “Hello – I’m on the train.”

This is up there with such famous words, joined up ones, as “Doctor Livingstone I presume?” or “Never have so few been messed about by so many, for so little” etc. But in my or our case, as other passengers were entertained by this trendsetter, as although we perhaps or possibly knew such things existed, to see one in captivity and being used was quite something else as they were very, very eye wateringly expensive when they were first launched on an unsuspecting and suspiciously, canny buying public.

However, once the magic “Hello – I’m on the train” was delivered into the said brick-type communication device, there was a pause before a reply must have come back, unheard or inaudible to us mere peasants close by, that was received by our very own Einstein that prompted his response thus:

“No, no! – I said I was on the t-r-a-i-n – the train, not plane!... you know I get nosebleeds just going on the escalator in John Lewis’s so what would I want to be doing on a plane?!” … I am speaking up! – it’s you at your end – stand nearer the phone, how many times have I told you? …. No, I am sitting near a window … no, true I am not normally on a train but I changed my mind and left the car in the car park but I felt I would let you know… yes, I know I said I might be catching one… no, I just thought you should know, that’s all that I am on a train ... yes, it’s going to London... I don’t know where your cousin Clive lives there anyway … I am going there on company business don’t forget so I can’t really nip round to say hello... No! – I don’t want his address...”

By now we are all basically close to bursting point with laughter with two cowards who suddenly got up from the seats to ‘go to the toilet’ and you could hear their laughter a mere few yards away as they scurried away and we sat there with our ribcages fit to burst.

I was curious after hearing this exchange of words that I did a bit of research afterwards and at the time the going rate was – wait for it – a pound a minute or part of a minute – but as he was after all on ‘company business’ least we forget so this possibly could be marked down in the Book of Stupidity under ‘Posing, with mobile phone’.

Back to the current plot of sooper salesperson with lady potential customer then.

While not pursuing the merits of switching on the central heating from Cambodia, it’s also possible to control the television in the house as it can replace the actual supplied remote control – the thought of being able to switch from ‘Eastenders’ on BBC 1 to ‘Celebrity Hedge Trimming’ on Channel 4 and still carry on talking to sister Betty in Rotherham about her ingrown toenail with just the one device must surely be a winner there? The bottom line on that was no, not now but she “would think about it”.

From early recollection, I grew up with the humble television being a large box the size of a tea chest or something a fridge freezer is delivered in nowadays, just two channels as in BBC and ITV with that interloper BBC 2 about to launch itself and in those days you walked towards the set and either pushed a button (expensive set) or turned a clunky dial (el cheapo set) to change channels but this left a sort of rut or groove in the carpet left by the footmarks and despite any attempts at carpet cleaning, you could still see the U shape pattern trodden into the carpet standing out.

Many believe this was the forerunner of the now and again vandalism called ‘crop circles’ but instead of carpets, that was in wheat or corn fields and – its been suggested – was made by folk with too much time on the hands with bits of string, oil drums and dim torches going into fields late at night to mess about flattening the said wheat or corn into patterns.

So far, there is no app for making ‘crop circles’ but it’s bound to happen and meanwhile “I’m not on the train”.