Saturday, October 02, 2010

The times they are a changing...

.
“But Carlisle is in Scotland!”

“Don’t be an idiot, it’s in England!”

“I know for a fact it’s in Scotland!”

“Well I’m Scottish and I can tell you for a fact it most certainly is not!”

“Well I’m going to phone Lisa, and she’ll tell you…”


A small group of students were sitting behind us on the train, when Maggie and I took a day trip up to Edinburgh earlier this week. Clearly one of them had no sense of local geography and was going to be in for a surprise when she phoned her friend.

It’s been many years since I regularly used the train to get anywhere, but the biggest difference I’ve noticed is the use of mobile phones.

I was struck by the fact that 10 years ago if a phone went off and someone talked loudly into it (“Hello? I’m on the train! THE TRAIN! Hello?”), a distinct atmosphere of irritation would quickly develop among all the other passengers in the carriage. Unable to do anything but listen to an intrusive one-sided conversation, we would wonder how anyone could be so inconsiderate and shameless.

But these days it is so commonplace, it just forms part of the background noise, blending in with the engine noise and the muffled clickity-clack of the lines. No one notices: they are all too caught up in their own phone conversations.

This small group of students seemed unusual in the fact they were actually having a face-to-face conversation.

Well, two of them were. The others were playing games on their iphones while listening to their ipods.
.

20 comments:

Anna van Schurman said...

Won't they both be surprised when they find out it's in Pennsylvania!

Jayne Martin said...

I wish we had good train service. It seems like an idyllic way to travel. You're so right about the phone thing. You can't go anywhere and just sit and have a cup of coffee without having to be privy to everyone else's business. And it's rarely all that interesting either.

mapstew said...

Ya know Kim, I can't remember the last time I took a train! (I lie, I just remembered, I took a train ride out of Moscow 7 years ago, hilarious!) But in Ireland? Must do one soon. :¬)

(WV = mated!)

savannah said...

i have my phone set to vibrate and i have to accept a call rather just have someone impose themselves on me. public transport isn't part of our local equation, but my conversations don't need to be imposed on everyone in my immediate vicinity! xoxoxoxoxo

(i can't even begin to discuss the lack of mental maps young people seem to have these days!)

Ron Tipton said...

Anna is right, Carlisle is in Pennsylvania. We took the Carlisle exit on the PA Turnpike on our trip south a few years ago.

Hey Kim, you might get a visitor next year. Visiting the UK is on my Bucket List and it looks like I'll be able to accomplish that goal next year.

Litzi said...

Hi Kim,
Unfortunately, face-to-face conversations are becoming passé. Social networking appears to be replacing personal relationships. Perhaps we’ll evolve into robots that won’t have any need for physical contact other than to procreate.

emma said...

While I know that better communications systems are incredibly helpful, (and here I am at the computer, my "social life" is now very virtual), at the same time I resent the way phones and the like have impacted on just talking, paying attention to, the person that is right in front of you.

Off track. Do they still sell pork pies on trains?

Pat said...

Aren't they just grown up comforters?

Ron Tipton said...

One good thing about the modern age of communication in which we live now is the fact we get to know, communicate and appreciate good folk like Kim Ayers.

Thrup'ny bits said...

Clickety-clack? You weren't on a main line were you? I digress.

I vaguely remember a big sign announcing Scotland going north on the M6 but I don't recall a sign announcing England on the way south to Carlisle . . . perhaps I was distracted by some sheep.

Beautifully reported vignette again, Kim.

Alan

Mary Witzl said...

Mobile phones still irritate me. When I have to speak on mine in public, whoever I'm talking to can never hear me because I keep my voice low. I can't bear to raise it, so I drive everybody crazy.

The girl who didn't know that Carlisle was in England reminds me of my daughter's Turkish Cypriot classmate who disagreed with my daughter about the capital of Turkey. Any fool knew that it was Istanbul, she insisted. No matter how desperately my daughter tried to convince her it was Ankara, she wasn't having a bit of it. To this day, she thinks it's Istanbul.

Kim Ayres said...

Anna - you mean I only live 55 miles from somewhere in Pennsylvania? The world is smaller than I thought...

Jayne - that's the truth of it - why can't people be discussing their love affairs or deep philosophy instead?

Mapstew - back in my 3rd year at Uni in Dundee I used to get the train down to Stirling and back every weekend to see Maggie, so for a while it was a key part of my life. But now it's very rare and it feels quite odd being on a train, which is why I notice the differences so much

Savannah - my mother used to use the phone as an example for the difference between "urgent" and "important" - when the phone rings, it is urgent, but it's rarely important.

Ron - it looks like there's a Carlisle in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky too. Keep me up to date with your travel plans :)

Litzi - given the vast amount of internet porn, plus artificial insemination, procreation won't necessarily have to feature...

Emma - they don't tend to have buffet carriages any more, but have a trolly these days, a bit like on aeroplanes. But as the prices for anything on these trolleys is extortionate, I've never looked closely to see what's on them, so cannot answer your pork pie question I'm afraid

Ron - but for all the technology, you still can't spell Ayres right...

Alan - there is a Welcome to England sign where the M74 meets the M6. It's usually situated where the rain stops and the clouds clear...

Mary - I think a lot of countries suffer from the capital being overshadowed by a larger, more famous city. A lot of people don't know the capital of Australia, for example, assuming it's Sydney.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Well, *I* notice loud cell phone calls and I have taken up arms against them. Asking politely never seemed to work so I purchased an illegal cell phone jammer. There's no stopping me when I have a full charge. It's blissful quiet until my stop.

allencapoferri said...

You may mention to the intruders (pass a note?) there's conclusive evidence of a link between mobile phone use and brain cancer & tumors.

Entrepreneur Chick said...

I like this. So true. Everyone's on the phone now.

There was a study done and the result is that the other person who is your companion and who is not on the phone; ends up having a 'sad face' if you are on the phone and they are not.

Deep. I know. lol

Kim Ayres said...

UB - I like your attitude :)

Allen - Although I can see where you're coming from, I don't know that it would work. I mean, there's conclusive proof that smoking will give you all sorts of horrible problems, but it doesn't stop most smokers from carrying on

EC - I have to say I do get quite pissed off if I'm talking to someone and they interrupt me to answer their phone and just start chatting away to someone else when it's not an important call. It's just plain rude. If I'm in conversation with someone and my phone starts ringing, unless the call is from my wife, the school or the doctor, I'll switch it to answer.

Jasmine said...

Dear Cell Phone User cards.

http://www.coudal.com/shhh.php

Jasmine said...

Not spam, Kim. Sorry! Just a cool thing I found.

Kim Ayres said...

Sorry Jasmine - always wary of sudden links without explanation. But that's a good one, and very relevant to the post :)

Falak said...

Trains..... They're always bustling with activity and people. Each train ride is like a short story. A lot of loud conversations (both telephonic and face to face) prove to make wonderful topics for blog posts :)