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January 2004 - Peripatetic Telephony

I seem to have been regularly reminded in communications of an old fashioned nature over the last couple of months that I have, thus far, failed to come up with any bitter and scathing remarks in this column about any of the communications devices of a new fashioned nature which are rapidly taking over our lives.

Many of you appear both surprised and saddened that a particular item does not yet seem to have turned up on my personal list of hatreds, nor have that item's uses, or for that matter, its users.

So, as we march confidently into this brand new year, perhaps the moment is upon us for Nick Harvey to throw off thoughts of all previous regular Comment subjects, beloved of the regular Comment devotees, and move on to newer and much greater things.

After all, a new year should mean new resolutions and new challenges, so why not some new hatreds?

One small problem there, though, madam.  It's not exactly a new hatred.  It's been going on for some time.  It all started on May 1st, back in 1985 you see.

Although, back in 1985, it wasn't all that bad. It could almost have been described as nearly normal, compared with today.  This particular phenomenon has got much worse with age, you see.

Madam!  Yes, you at the back there!  Please stop muttering!  No, that last sentence in the previous paragraph was NOT talking about Nick Harvey, as it happens.

Those of an educational bent will already have worked out of what I am talking this month, from the wonderfully explanatory heading.

Those NOT of an educational bent will probably be considering reaching for the dictionary by now, but there's no need to bother, folks, as all will be revealed eventually.

I mean, it might be a brand new year, but an edition of Nick Harvey's Comment without a good digression or seven, wouldn't be a proper edition of Nick Harvey's Comment, now would it?

By the way, did you all have a good Christmas?  I sincerely hope you did.  Were the sprouts cooked to your liking?

I trust you all noticed that little test paragraph I popped in there.  That's something else new that I'm trying out in 2004.  A digression within a digression, just to see who's concentrating enough to still be following the original plot.

The mother of one of my first girl friends used to cook a wonderful meat and potato pie.  It was the real thing.   Real original Yorkshire style, even if cooked in Wiltshire.

Mind you, I'd expect her to have been a good cook.  It was her job.

No, no, no, no no.  You've got it all wrong now.  This isn't a digression within a digression, this is back at the original story, honest.

The lady in question was a peripatetic schools meals supervisor, you see.  She used to go around from school to school showing the local cooks how to produce better and more nourishing food for the dear little kiddies.

That's when I first heard the word, you see.

No, no, not the word of God, the word peripatetic.  My goodness, you really are all still asleep from consuming too much of the Christmas turkey, aren't you?

I have a slight advantage here, you see.  I KNOW how bad I'm going to get over the festive season, so I'm writing this the week before, while my head's still beautifully clear.

Anyone who wants to leave now and come back and catch up with two in February is welcome to.  After all, that'll make it look as if you've read it twice, according to all the log files, so I'll be able to charge far more for future editions.

Ever since those deep, dark days of yore, whilst I was eating the meat and potato pie, I've been looking for a good excuse to use the word more widely, because I reckon it's one of those "nice" words that deserves lots more exposure.

So there it is, up in the heading there.  A much better word to use than the normal one.  And with its educational connotations, far better for this excellently educational piece of prose in any case.

So anyway, as I was saying, this particular phenomenon wasn't nearly as bad in 1985.

For a start, peripatetic telephony in 1985 was just peripatetic telephony.  You just used the things to TALK to other people.  Additionally, in 1985, the things were so flamin' heavy that you had to put your knife and fork DOWN in order to have the strength to pick the thing up and answer it.

So why on earth didn't the world STAY like it was in 1985?

What dimwit of a designer, to pick on one of Nick Harvey's OLD list of hated persons, decided to try making the things smaller and lighter?

Specifically, who was the idiot who first produced a version which isn't long enough to reach from your mouth to your ear?

Are you supposed to hold the top bit to your ear or the bottom bit to your mouth?  Or are you supposed to hold opposite ends to opposite orifices alternately and keep saying "over" after every sentence you utter?  I mean, it doesn't answer these questions in the instruction booklet, does it?

Perhaps that's why everyone's stopped using the damn things to talk into and moved over to this texting lark.

Now, those of you who instantly understood my heading this month, will probably be with me in the category of people who are still wondering where this verb "to text" sprang from.

What a ridiculous verb!  I text, u text, he txts, she txts; we txt, u txt, they txt.  I'd love to see the full Latin version of that little lot!

And if, like me, your hatred of text-speak is even greater than your hatred of the device on which the action is perpetrated, you'll be pleased to know that that last paragraph will be the only occurrence of such slaughtered English in this month's edition.

Because, dear friends, texting is dead.  Texting has passed on.  Texting has been superseded.

The new hatred has got to be picture messaging.

Now, when Nick Harvey totters home from the club, a tad the worse for wine, he's always expected his slight instability in the leg department to be a matter of his own personal privacy.

Aside from the assembled operatives in the local constabulary's closed circuit television control room, of whom FAR more in a later edition, I've not expected to be viewed in any great detail as I wend my weary way home.

Not so any longer!

One now has to find one's way through the collection of spotty youths, taking your picture on this tiny device of theirs and immediately transmitting your image around the town, the county, and probably the world.

When you grab hold of their tiny device and threaten to smash it pieces on the adjacent brick wall, they remind you of all THEIR human rights, conveniently forgetting that you might have preferred NOT to have had your picture taken in the first place.

So, as you might just have gathered by now, I'm none too impressed with this peripatetic telephony, its uses OR it's users.

In fact, to complete what we've been building up to since the heading, right back at the top of the page, I reckon it's pretty pathetic telephony, really.

There you are, you see, madam; planning DOES go into this load of old cobblers, well, SOME months, anyway.

There was somebody pretty famous on a television programme a few months ago who admitted to singing loudly and flat, right next to anyone trying to use a mobile phone in a public place.  DAMN fine idea, Sir!   I just wish I could remember your name, to congratulate you personally.

The only other idea I've managed to come up with myself is inspired by the Russians during the Cold War.  Jamming!

They used to jam our radio broadcasts by sending out a load of white noise on the channels we were using.

I wonder if I could carry around a jamming transmitter in my top pocket?  It would simply send out white noise on all the mobile phone channels and have a range of about fifty yards.  That would produce a buffer zone all around me, where no mobile phone could operate, so peace and tranquillity could reign supreme.

I'll bet that could be another of Nick Harvey's nice little earners if I could perfect it and sell the idea on.  Hands up anyone who DOESN'T want one.  Thought so!

Well, I trust I've satisfied those of you who wrote in enquiring as to why I hadn't had a go at mobiles before.  It might have taken a while for this edition to arrive, but I think we've made up for the wait, have we not?

On the assumption that I'm not stuck in the laboratory, still designing my jamming transmitter, I'll grab a couple of minutes in the next month to write another epic, for delivery on February 1st.

Until then, dear friends, don't go answering that phone!  Right, I'm off, where's me sim card?

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