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Yesterday I went to a funeral. The lovely 94 year old lady was undoubtedly on her way to heaven and believe me, all the other residents would have been calling, ‘Come on up, let’s taste your featherlight cakes, let’s hear your glorious voice, let’s watch your fingers whizz across a piano keyboard, let’s see you work your magic with a duster’.
If ever there was a woman going to a better place, she most definitely has!
And the funeral was the reason for the journeys I’m about to describe.
The main route to my destination had been gridlocked for the previous two mornings and so I decided to let the train take the strain, and rocked up at the local village station about 10.30
There had sadly been a suicide the day before at the station, but I was still intrigued to see two mature, kindly ladies with ‘Samaritan’ written on their warm fleeces, and an invitation saying ‘talk to me’. So I did. But only because I’m just plain nosey.
I haven’t contemplated suicide, well not since Robbie left Take That….
In hushed tones, they asked me if travelled from the station every day, which I don’t, and asked if I’d heard about the ‘incident’ the previous day, which I had. Apparently the Samaritans often attend the scene of a suicide in case anyone wants to talk about it.
Whilst I think they do sterling work, and I’m full of admiration, my cynical side still wanted to crack a feeble joke and say,
‘It’s such a pity you weren’t here yesterday’…..
So I boarded the train, and found myself in a carriage with 6 people opposite me, and 2 either side of me. All of the other travellers had their heads down looking at their mobile phones. Not one of them was reading a book or a news-paper or even chatting to anyone.
I, on the other hand, gazed out of the window for the whole journey, and how nice it was to see those 2 lovely tall white horses being ridden round a field next to the track, and to spot the house of an old friend, I wondered what they were up to now, it’s been 40 years since I’ve seen them.
I saw beautifully manicured gardens, some small children playing on a swing in their garden, a fisherman bending over a steaming kettle.
Just little snippets of other people’s lives that the phone browsers missed completely.
It was utterly silent, nobody spoke, or engaged with each other, and presumably this is how these commuters spend their travelling time every day.
Isn’t that sad, and such a waste of opportunity.
Fast forward to the return journey and things couldn’t have been more different.
There were 6 people in the homeward bound carriage, one was resolutely looking down at his phone with earplugs in, and another one of them was wired up to an iPod but was at least looking out of the window, as were the other passengers.
All of a sudden iPod man began to laugh out loud. Real hearty laughter, and at first everyone else exchanged nervous glances in a ‘is he raving mad’ kind of way.
He didn’t care, he carried on laughing, and the nervous glances changed to amused glances, and then the lady next to me began to do that stifled laughter thing, when you try to keep your mouth closed, your body still but your chest is moving ever so slightly.
I felt her movement and she looked at me and openly laughed, so I laughed with her. The couple opposite looked at us laughing, and laughed themselves, now 4 people are laughing at another man laughing but we have no bloody idea what he is laughing at.
Mr Mobile Phone man was, meanwhile completely oblivious of all the merriment as he hadn’t once looked up, or heard the kerfuffle.
Eventually laughing man took out his earplugs and wiped away his tears, and in reply to me asking, ‘you must tell us what you were listening to, he replied…
‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue’ and we all just erupted into even more laughter.
I know this story reeks of ‘you had to be there’, but it’s not really about what I personally saw or heard, it’s about what everyone else missed, whilst being otherwise engaged.
What annoys you most about the intrusiveness of mobile technology ?