It's not that long ago that the possession of a mobile phone was still relatively unusual, but it's surprising just how indispensable they have become over the past seven years. Accidentally leaving the thing at home is almost like having your left arm cut off. And yet, despite their twenty-first century ubiquitousness, there's still a surprising amount of negative feeling towards them and their users.
Of course you can understand where this antagonism originated. In the 1990s many a smarmy sharp-suited businessmen used his leatherette-encased-brick-a-like mobile as a status symbol, showing off in public by bawling into the mouthpiece that he was on the train but would be home in five minutes. Who wouldn't get annoyed with that sort of behaviour?
However, the tenacity of this mobilephobia - hanging around into an age when we've all got one and have all had to use it in public - is totally bizarre. It's not as if you even need to shout into the things any more. And yet sure enough, if a friend should happen to call you when you are on public transport and asks you where you are, your answer is bound to provoke hoots of derision and scoops of steaming ridicule from some smartass on the bus. I've actually taken to saying:
"I'm in the observation module of the International Space Station. Well actually I'm not, I'm on the bus, but if I'd just come out and said that in the first place no doubt some self-important wanker in the back seats would have used it as an excuse to start loudly taking the piss to impress the girl he's sitting next to. I'll be home in five minutes."The most extreme form of mobilephobia is when it actually passes into the domain of officialdom. Yes, I'm talking about the so called Quiet Carriages on trains. Have you ever been in one of those? Bellowing babies, whinging children, drunken louts droning on about football and raucous-laughter-as-a-substitute-for-personality are all apparently perfectly fine. Talking on your mobile is not.
Novelty ring tones, however, remain the work of the devil.