Friday, 22 January 2016


There was an Incident on Wednesday night the nature of which remains unclear to me but the upshot was that some damage was inflicted on my phone involving water and one of my children, the intermediate consequences involved some shouting and stomping and a broken mug and the ultimate result is that I have no phone for some, as yet undefined, length of time. I have tried many times to call the shaggy haired, eye-contact-avoiding youths who are holding it hostage, but they do not answer the phone - I mean, who under 30 does that - their voicemail box is full and they do not respond to email either. Clearly I either need to join their WhatsApp group (no I have no idea what that is) or go round in person like a vengeful pensioner and glare at them and nag until they languidly give in (I am very familiar with this tedious discipline technique). I am not up to either of those things. It took me about 90 minutes of psyching myself up to get as far as the post office this morning (Eireann, your book is now on its way, sorry it took so long).

As a result I am phoneless and it is making me agitated-slash-paralysed. Why go for my usual lengthy morning walks when my virtuous step count will not be recorded and when I cannot distract myself by listening to Our Mutual Friend (Mr Boffin was just becoming unhealthily obsessed by lives of misers)? How can I take artfully arranged pictures of the old hen's large eggs next to the new hen's tiny brown ones for as many as three or perhaps four people to pity-like on Instagram? Perhaps most importantly, why the fuck did the alarm clock app I downloaded onto my laptop not wake me up this morning, leading to the most almighty 8am panic? I do not know. I need to readjust to analogue life and engage with beauty and peace and prolonged periods of uninterrupted abstract thought but instead I am mainly thinking Dark Highly Specific Thoughts about the responsible individual. I have become as shallow as a saucer and as easily distracted as a toddler by a packet of raisins. I have no inner life.

Assuming they do not relinquish the phone for some time, I need to plan my life better (first step: purchase a basic alarm clock). I need to take my book and drink expensive tea at Comptoir Florian where phones are banned and use my Beaux Arts membership to go and stare at Breughels. I need to cook nourishing soups (ha, I am SOUP KRYPTONITE, every soup I try and make is disgusting) whilst listening to informative radio programmes. Sit in cafés with notebooks and pencils writing short stories. Learn to play a new Chopin Etude. Of course I will do none of these things, but will sulk around the house more tied to my laptop than ever, perhaps reaching some tipping point of acceptance just as the phone is finally relinquished by its infant captors.

What would you do if you suddenly had a week free from the tyranny of your smartphone? Or are you perhaps already one of those ahead of the curve refuseniks? My sister is trying to become one but she is far more disciplined than me.


10% Rediscovered Uniqlo cashmere mix sweatshirt joy
10% New trainer discomfort
10% Chapped hands
10% Unable to believe I will ever write anything again
10% Coffee and walnut cake
10% Puny Dutch exam triumph (I came top! 90%! I must be honest, it was not very difficult and the marking must have been pretty generous)
10% Invoice rage
10% TMI about the neighbour's UTI
10% No more salty breadcrumb chocolate panic
10% Cold Comfort Farm



Patience_Crabstick said...

I don't own a smartphone. I have a tablet, but it's not quite the same. For example, I look like a complete idiot taking pictures with it in public, so I generally don't. This is probably a very unhelpful thing to say, but after reading your list of all the things you use your smartphone for, I wanted to go out and get one!

T said...

I've never had a smartphone so can't really help you, but I recently went back to a basic alarm clock (instead of my ancient phone) and it's the best thing ever. Simple buttons! Upright clockface with a nightlight! No battery-ran-out surprises (as yet)!

A tiny basic mp3 player works wonders on walks.

Alison said...

I just got a lovely second-hand watch as a birthday present because I can't stand using my smartphone as a timepiece any longer - it was making me feel uncouth and rude just for wanting to know the time. The watch is old (vintage is the proper term I suppose) and requires winding every morning and now brings a little bit of analogue joy to my life every time I'm running late for a meeting. Highly recommended.

Crazy Mom! said...

Cold Comfort Farm. "I saw something Nasty in the Woodshed..." (LOVED the 1995 movie.)

I have TWO alarms set for weekday mornings on my smartphone - which I have in my possession - yet I am forever getting up late. Can't blame the phone.

"Well, I'll tell ye, there'll be no butter in hell!"

Waffle said...

YES. No butter in hell. I LOVE THIS LINE.

Waffle said...

(Also Rufus Sewell was so so so perfect as Seth)

Anonymous said...

As for soup, you just need one recipe:

orange split lentils
sweet potatoes
bit of pumpkin if you want.

Boil them silly until soft and blend until it's velvety smooth.
Add the juice of an orange (or two), curry powder and olive oil (this is my favourite option) before serving.
Or butter/ cream and Herbes de Provence or whatever you prefer, rosemary or thyme are good.

Serve with a cheese toastie and dinner is served.

You literally cannot go wrong. If in doubt, add more curry. Like dal, only more velvety and soupy.

Crazy Mom! said...

I could have licked the TV screen when Rufus Sewell appeared.

The cast was Splendid - loved Ian McKellan as the father/preacher.

Crazy Mom! said...

BTW the book is on the table by my guest bed, for all to enjoy. And I've just ordered the DVD. BECAUSE I NEED IT.

"I do seem somewhat soaked in nature's fecund blessing."

Bryony said...

I left my phone on a train yesterday. It has gone to Welwyn Garden City (not where I was heading at all) but is apparently on its way back home now. Am loving it. Have adored Cold Comfort Farm since I first read it aged 12 and roared with laughter.

CJ said...

Can't afford a smartphone so I am stuck with soup and the radio. I think after two or three weeks you will adjust nicely.

frau antje said...

Good time to consider the sound of one hand chapping. I wouldn't, but I'm insular.

Never saw Cold Comfort Farm, though I was paid to inspect a Jaguar for Joanna Lumley a short while before it came out (not in any normal way). And there's no butter in hell? Okay, so things just aren't going to be looking up. That's fine.

Melisa said...

I have no less than four alarms set on my phone for work days. This past Monday I slept through three of them. I'm just going with the assumption that this has been a difficult week for everyone to make me feel better about myself. It's quite soothing, if not especially cheerful or kind, to imagine that everyone else is having as tough a week as I am.

Waffle said...

Melisa - I can confirm that it has been a heap of crap here. Glad to help.

Margaret said...

Melisa, such a terrible week everywhere and now it's Snowmageddon 2016. I wish I had no phone or Internet. I'm addicted and I hate it. Except then I couldn't read your blog and look at photos of Rufus Sewell. SO CONFLICTED. There'll be no butter in hell was a common exclamation by my parents growing up. They'd yell it and then cackle at each other. When I finally read the the book, I rolled when I came to that part.

Flora Fauna Dinner said...

I've been secretly leaving mine places for some while now and when it rings I just stare at it and think 'How quaint!' My in laws - including my parents-in-law - all seem to use Whatsapp to communicate. What say you we bring back the carrier pigeon?

Dale said...

I finally caved and got one of the vile things a few months ago and I cordially loathe it. I feel obscurely wasteful for not understanding or being able to use 98% of its capacities, and that makes me even madder. Sadly it is a two year commitment. So I got something obscenely expensive that makes me feel bad about myself. Well done, me.

Anonymous said...

does it imply that there will be margarine in hell instead?

Sparkling Red said...

Go without my phone voluntarily? LOL nope.

Monica said...

I don't want to think about giving up my smartphone. Nope. But I've got to say that I'm becoming obsessed by the thought of coffee walnut cake and can you point me in the direction of a recipe that might approximate the thing you are ALWAYS speaking of?

Bought A Manual For Cleaning Women thanks to you but haven't yet started reading it.

Waffle said...

Monica - Given Delia is the queen, I would recommend this though that mascarpone icing isn't very traditional, hmm.

Maybe Mary Berry?

Monica said...

Oooh, thanks!

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