In a Word... phone

Humankind lived for millenniums without the phone – I have to remind myself

My phone is a constant and close companion these days. Even at night time it sleeps (mostly) on a bedside table beside me. Just recently I went to the shop for milk and, halfway there, realised I had left my phone behind. I felt bereft.

It was as if I had left a child in the house alone before an open fire or was suddenly a spaceman cut off from the mothership adrift in limitless, dark, empty space spinning away to nothingness.

“Ground Control to Major Tom/Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong/Can you hear me, Major Tom?/Can you hear me, Major Tom?..”

How has it come to this? I mean I remember life BP (Before Phone). It was not at all unlike life BC.


I remind myself that humankind (personkind?) lived for millenniums without the phone. I remind myself that I too lived for the greater part of my life (for very many decades more than I care to be reminded) without access to an ordinary phone, never mind a mobile one.

I remember the wild excitement when we got the phone at home in Ballaghaderreen and how, to ring anyone, you had to dial Ms McLaughlin and just ask for the person you wanted to talk to and she put you through. You didn’t even have to have their number.

As a child I wondered how her small head could contain all the numbers she knew.

It was such a different world. Then curry was just a place in Sligo, pizza referred to a leaning tower in Italy, you got water from a well or tap, and the idea of paying more for a bottle of it than for diesel would have drawn the fair judgment – "that fella should be in Cashelray" (the psychiatric hospital in Castlerea).

Yes, simpler times where fish had no fingers, people (mainly men) wore big Macs, muesli was fed only to cattle, pineapples came in tins, and there was only loose leaf brown tea (served in a teapot). Sugar – lots of it – was good with everything, as was salt, and the country was full of single men known as Batchelors who tinned peas, as well as beans in a lovely tomato sauce.

In truth, I’d exchange my mobile phone for none of it.

Phone, from Greek phone, for “sound, voice”.