Sunday, November 25, 2007

The mobile blues again

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again...
Bob Dylan

As a twelve year old listening to this song I thought he was singing "stuck inside a mobile..." meaning a mobile home, meaning a trailer or caravan... Perhaps I ought to explain: it's not, or not just, that I led an unusually sheltered life; but because when I was twelve the mobile phone did not exist as a concept. Amazingly, for such a simple idea, and now so widespread, science fiction cinema of the 50s and 60s never posited that in the future, along with their Bacofoil suits, everyone in the world (or at least, Hong Kong) might be carrying a mobile means of communication. My word association with the word "mobile" as a twelve year old might also have had something to do with the gypsies who lived in a bus behind our house for a few months (AKA as "the Bussies"; and that's another story). Whatever the reason, being stuck inside a mobile was a genuinely sad prospect, and not just because of the way Bob whinged it. My friend Gordon once described a wild Highlands party which culminated in him waking up criminally hung over, "on the floor of someone's caravan, wrapped in a blanket, with my head on a welly". Amazingly, all those connections and that imagery spring unbidden to mind when I think of the word "mobile".

To the point, though: I will regularly, and have done so twice in the last couple of days, ask someone shouting in to a mobile phone to tone it down. I am, as my friend C, AKA La Grande Poobah says, assertive, or perhaps that's just disagreeable. In my view the mobile phone bawler lacks self-awareness and more importantly, consideration for others.

The reactions are varied: usually, and gratifyingly, they say sorry, and comply (I do ask nicely); but yesterday, I got a very aggressive response. There was a sign on the wall (in the spa, as it happens: a place where people go to relax), so I was within my rights; but this made no difference to madam, because she had to speak to her friend.

I think this problem may be particularly common in Hong Kong, where there's an obsession with answering, or being on, the phone come what may. People will routinely answer their phones in the cinema. Sadly, the Trigger Happy TV sketch where Dom Joly answers an enormous phone during a film screening and shouts into it "HELLO! I'M IN THE CINEMA! YES, IT'S SHIT!" is not that funny in Hong Kong: it's the normal state of affairs.


Grande Poobah said...

No no - assertive it is. And I agree with you too - although in true GP fashion by the time i've gathered the gumption to do something about the situation the moment has well and truly passed.

Very childish though - this need for instant gratification. they all need to read more Freud who had a thing or two to say on the subject.

Mummy said...

I wish I was more asssertive.

On my morning run/walk this morning I went past two huge buses, drivers outside having a ciggie, engines on and pumping out fumes. As I went past I thought I should say something. Being typically English I let it anger me, but when I went back past them on my return leg still didn't say anything. I now feel I should have!

LottieP said...

Yes, but I do sometimes think I'm lucky I haven't had my head kicked in, the way I carry on...