Brring brring: “Are you listening in on my private conversation?” © Vetta
I shall soon be the only EMV (email virgin) left in the country. I have never sent an email, though I’ve occasionally cheated and asked my teenage son to do so for me. Nor have I ever used the internet. I am no more capable of going online than I am of getting to Saturn. I don’t know how to text. I do have a mobile phone, but it’s immobile. I never take it out of the house, for fear of triggering some ridiculous trend in which hordes of people march down the street bawling into these sinister little gadgets. If you allowed people to use mobile phones in public, you might end up being forced to listen to them on trains and in cafes, asking noisily whether the invoices have arrived. The prospect is too appalling to contemplate. The only time I might conceivably have needed a mobile phone outside the house was when I once turned my car over in the Irish mountains and was trapped inside the vehicle for a while. When a passer-by did finally try to use a phone, however, it didn’t work, since the mountains were too high. Hanging upside down like a gigantic bat, my chest crushed painfully against the air bag, I felt quietly vindicated.
I have, however, hit on an unbeatable way of taking my revenge on the “Have the invoices arrived yet?” brigade. Whenever I sit on a train, I place a small banana on the table before me. If I find myself opposite someone who forces me to listen to his boring, brain-rotting conversation, I give a loud “brring brring.” Then I pick up the banana and conduct a deafening pseudo-dialogue of soul-killing dullness. If the person opposite protests that I’m sending him up, I ask him in affronted tones whether he has been listening in on my private conversation.
My resistance to email didn’t start out as a protest. It’s just one aspect of my general technological backwardness. I was cleaning my teeth with a twig long after the invention of toothbrushes, and using a typewriter long after everyone else had switched to a computer. “But how do you revise stuff?” they would ask me. “Revise?” I would reply incredulously, one eyebrow superciliously cocked. Showers are…