The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

A few weeks ago I bought a new mobile phone.

Thursday, 8th November 2018, 2:14 pm
Updated Monday, 12th November 2018, 8:50 pm

I didn’t do this because I’m one of those technology-obsessed folk who feel the need to have the latest of everything (the kind of person who will look at your phone or TV, chuckle, and say. ‘my that’s an old one isn’t it?’ as if it defines you as a terrible person).

I have absolutely no interest in gadgets of any kind and the only reason I decided to purchase a new phone is because I’d had my previous one just shy of five years and it was in increasingly decrepit condition. For instance, to send a text message I had to wave the device hopefully in the air, while every phone call I made automatically cut off after 35 seconds, which was infuriating although very handy when you wanted to get rid of your mother just as she was launching into a lecture about how I‘m a bad father because I’ve taken my daughter out without a pair of gloves on (‘But mum, it’s really mild outside’ “It doesn’t matter, if her hands get too cold SHE COULD DIE” … always been a bit on the dramatic side my mother).

So I decided I needed a new phone, though with heavy heart for the thought of going to a phone shop thoroughly depressed me.

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I knew what would happen – I’d be served by some young trendy lad, who would greet me with the words ‘hi pal’ even though we’ve never met before and therefore could not be classed even in the loosest sense as friends, and he would use lots of words I didn’t understand like gigabytes and data and roaming and the whole bloody thing would take ages.

And my worst fears were confirmed because that’s exactly what happened.

No sooner had I set foot in the shop than a boy aged about 19 with a goatee beard and what looked like a tattoo of a rabid goat on his forearm ran towards me. His trousers were halfway up his shins and he wasn’t wearing any socks, just a pair of shoes, un-tied, so the laces were dangling on the floor. He had either got dressed without switching the light on or was following some kind of fashion trend, a trend I’m guessing won’t be a trend for long. He looked an idiot, though I decided not to start the conversation with this observation as I feared it might get us off on the wrong foot.

‘Hi there, my name’s Dex,’ he said in incredibly enthusiastic tone. ‘Can I help with anything today mate?’

“Yes,” I felt like replying, “you could start by not addressing me as mate because we’ve never met before and if I had the option of having you as one of my friends, I’d almost certainly say no.”

Instead I explained to Dex I wanted a new phone and that I wasn’t remotely interested in the latest models or which had the best zoom on the camera – I just wanted something that would make a phone call.

Dex paused slightly – like he was unsure how to respond to this strange human – then decided to completely ignore all I had said and told me they had a special deal on the latest iPhone which was – and he said the following without any hint of irony or shame – a bargain at just under £1,000.

It went on like this for a bit – ‘well, how about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9? It’s got HD quad display, 12MP dual camera, and you can get it in lavender’ – before, eventually, mercifully, I finally got it through to Dex’s fairly thick skull that I wanted something extremely basic and cheap.

He then passed me a phone that resembled a small iron bar and felt just as heavy. It was perfect.

After about four hours answering questions and filling in paperwork – during which I wanted to end my life at several points – I emerged from the shop with my new purchase feeling relief and sheer delight that the whole experience was over for, all being well, at least another five years.

Which leads me to Tuesday night.

I pulled up at a sports hall where I was playing badminton and put the phone on the roof of the car while I got my trainers (Slazenger DX251s with mesh insole and padded tongue) from the boot.

I closed the boot, heard an alarming crunching noise, and looked up to find my phone had slipped into that bit between roof and boot.

I’d slammed my own car boot shut on it.

Naively I hoped the damage wouldn’t be too bad, a hope that was extinguished when I opened the boot to discover the phone was now in three separate pieces. I could have cried.

It led to a hugely depressing evening, not improved by the fact I played eight games and lost seven of them (though in my defence my arthritic toe was very painful that night).

The upshot of all this is that I have to return to the god damn phone shop and no doubt spend several more hours in the company of Dex.

On the upside having no phone means Mrs Canavan can’t contact me during the day to ask me to run any errands, so every cloud.

I’m not upset about it, honestly

A depressing sign of how society has changed is how people responded when I told them I’d smashed my phone to bits.

They react as if you’ve just lost a close family relative. Their voice drops an octave and they say quietly, ‘oh my god, I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope you’re Ok’.

One of my friends even came round and left a casserole and a homemade lemon drizzle cake on my doorstep. When I phoned to thank her, I couldn’t help but ask why she’d left them. ‘Just to help you get through,’ she said.

I repeatedly tell people it is just a phone, that it is replaceable and that I’m really not that bothered … but they stare back at me as if I’m mad. ‘But it’s your phone, you must be devastated,’ they’ll say.

They also seem genuinely baffled as to how I am coping without a phone, as if it’s impossible to function on a day-to-day basis without this little thing in your pocket.

It’s all very odd and proof once again that I don’t fit in with modern-day society, something, if truth be told, I’m rather quite pleased about.