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“my name’s Dawn and I’m addicted to my mobile phone”

I’m one week into the programme. And yes, I have a serious problem.

One of my sisters (the clinical psychologist, funnily enough…) pointed it out more than a couple of times before all this unfolded.

“No phones at the table” often. And that’s bad. I shouldn’t need to be told.

But I feel a little bit like a child with my phone. Like, I just can’t help it. It’s hypnotic. And I always find a (grown up) excuse: I’m single; I live by myself; my phone is an important link to the outside world; I don’t want my friends to think I’m ignoring them. It’s my lifeline.

That’s the problem.

I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m a take-it-or-leave-it person. I’ve not inherited the addictive personality. I can drop something as and when I decide to. (Preferably not my phone…in the bath, which is what got me into this whole pickle).

Dry January wasn’t the easiest but it also wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not addicted to alcohol though. I just enjoy the taste. But I can take it or leave it. Even if I’m away in The Hague with friends. Go me.

My smart phone on the other hand, and much as I hate to admit it, might as well be surgically attached to me. I take it everywhere I go.

And I don’t mean just outside of the house. I mean into every room. If I’m in a room, it will be too.

I mean really, it’s not my fault: there’s always a good purpose for it in every room. It can do anything: look up recipes in the kitchen; cast to my TV in high-definition in the lounge; catch up on what’sapp messages from friends when in the bathroom (fess up – we’ve all done it whilst brewing one); check the news at lunch time at the office; browse for (probably not) eligible men to date within 30 miles before I drive home in the car.

Even when I go to bed, pzizz helps me drift off mindfully into a deep sleep…and then the whole circle starts again when my alarm goes off the next morning and I experience the first mobile phone scramble of the day.

I don’t think I’m a bigger user than most but it is my alarm (no less than 4 to get me up in the morning plus snoozing), my torch as I walk to pilates at the local school on dark start-of-the-year-nights, my calculator when I’m adding up my expenses, my notepad for the films I want to watch, books I want to read, music I want to buy. I can play my saxophone alongside iTunes ahead of rehearsals & gigs, use a clever app to track when Mrs P will be paying her monthly visit, bookmark interesting websites with safari (will I ever get around to reading any of them?), scan to find the cheapest flights to my sisters’ in Rome or Scotland, click twice to buy pretty much anything I don’t have time to shop for and access my bank accounts to check everything’s going in and out as it should.

Fact: there are no limits to the black magic of a smart phone. And I’m totally enchanted.

As you may well have gathered by now, it’s the first thing I look at when I wake up, the last thing I check before I go to sleep and is pretty much within arm’s length every single moment of my waking life.

And it’s only ever going to get more clever, more indisposible and more hypnotic:
“control the heating thermostat in your house using your phone with Hive”;
“use the Sky+app on your phone to record in HD without having to leave the office”;
“pay for your train journey using apple pay and finger print recognition – safer than your bank – on your iPhone”.

The list is never ending.
It’s amazing. But it’s scary. Because you don’t realise how much it’s taking over until you’re forced to stop by a big tub of bathwater and the certain knowledge from your Dad that it’s not the water that damages your phone but the short circuiting when you turn it back on.

So I thought these things, in this order

1/ Shute – maybe I am addicted to my mobile phone?
(after all if I’d not taken it with me into the bathroom and balanced it next to a very full bath – idiot – then I now wouldn’t be facing such discombobulation. I also wouldn’t have ever had a reason to use that word in a blog. So. Small mercies).

2/ But I can’t manage without it.

3/ I need to change that.

4/ It needs to dry out before I turn it back on.

5/ Maybe it would be a good fundraiser (I’m going to help build a school in East Kenya in August and need to raise £1000 by July)

6/ What am I thinking?!

7/ There was life before mobile phones (including being at a red pay phone box on the edge of the Northumbria at Newcastle campus at a certain time every week to call my then boyfriend , who was at Uni in Portsmouth).

8/ Maybe I’d be less late for people if I didn’t have a mobile phone?

9/ People can still call me on the house phone.
(As it turns out, they can’t. There is a line fault. Brilliant. But at the time I didn’t know this).
And all the important people know where I live. And I have an address…maybe someone will write.

9/ I can do this.

10/ I can’t do this.

11/ I just thought ‘I can’t do this’.

12/ I need to do this.

13/ It will help me raise money for building materials for Project Riandu.

14/ It will be an interesting experiment.

15/ I’ll need motivation.

16/ It will help me raise money for building materials for Project Riandu.

17/ I must be mad.

18/ Its more mad that I can’t go near the bath without my phone.

19/ I need to break the habit.

20/ It will help me raise money for building materials for a school for deaf children in Africa.

So I’ve seized the moment. My phone was dunked. It’s out of action, vulnerable to short-circuiting.

It’s true – I never would have chosen to do this without that disastrous serendipitous, heart stopping moment when my iPhone 5s fell in slow-mo to its watery fate.

However, there is one condition my smart little black magic friend foe……(I’ll insert word here at the end of the month when some distance between me and it has given me some sense of perspective on the whole question). The condition being you better bloody come back to life, after you’ve spent 31 days drying out without me.

March has become mobile-less March and here I am, a week in.

It’s been….interesting (not least due to lack of sleep caused by what I can only assume is, ridiculously, separation anxiety). I’ll tell you more tomorrow. But I had to give you the background first.

To seal the deal I sent the email below the (ironic) photo to my family and friends at 9.10am on Monday 29th February. I reckon if you’re ever going to do anything big, procrastination is only just around the corner. There will always be a million reasons not to. So I vote rash. Be bold. Run with the impulse and JFDI!




So first things first and spoiler alert – I’m giving up my mobile phone for a month.


1/ because I’m clearly addicted to it (and dropped it in the bath the other day) and my family has got on the band wagon and said – in not so many words that – I need to get a grip


2/ to raise money for a life-changing project that one or two of you may already have heard me go on about already: Project Riandu

Cutting a long story short, in August I’m going to a village called Riandu in Embu County in eastern Kenya..and I’m going to be helping to build a school for deaf teenagers.

Big deal?

Well yes it is really. There are 71 primary schools for deaf people in Kenya…but just 5 secondary schools and none in eastern Kenya. Here, having a deaf child is often seen as a curse. We’re working with the Peter Cowley Africa Trust (charity no. 1037257) and the local Mother’s Union to try and change that culture.

This school – which will accommodate up to 200 pupils and have excellent specialised facilities, including a dining hall (yup we’re building that one this year) will have immeasurable benefits for hundreds of children who otherwise might miss out on what could be their brighter future.

At the moment only 12% of deaf adults in Kenya gain secondary level education. Many who don’t will end up depending on their family or begging in the street.

I could go on about how incredible the project it (it’s sustainable, locally-led, ethical, all the funds we as volunteers raise goes into buying building materials as we’re paying all our own expenses) but instead I’ll let them tell you about it.

And this is what I’ll actually be doing from the 13th to the 30th August. Like yeah. It’s totally going to be hard work.

Comparable to giving up my mobile phone for the whole of March?? Possibly not. WHAT. AM. I. DOING?! (help!). The rules are below, in case you’re interested.

I’d be very grateful if you wouldn’t mind helping me out with this completely stupid idea and sponsoring me (using that link in blue in this sentence here).

I don’t want to fail. But I’m going to need motivation. So a fiver, a tenner, whatever you are able to afford would be massively appreciated.

Now I’m going away, to rock quietly in a corner and work out how I’m going to get by without messages from my friends, and instagram and google maps and iphone’s notepad and calculator and chromecast and… I’m scaring myself now, so I’m going to stop.

Oh and if you’d like to get in touch at all during March, please email me back…or call my landline. Or – something really novel – send snail mail to me. That’d be nice. Some cards & letters. Maybe that’s what I can spend my time doing in March? Reading a nice note from you. (I’m not desperate. Really).

Thanks, thank you, thanks,



1/ No use of my iphone 5s ..(or any other equivalent personal mobile device). It needs time to dry out anyway so I don’t short-circuit it.

2/ I am allowed to use my work phone for work activities – we have to be realistic here – communication is my job. Of course as I look after Arthur Rank Hospice Charity’s Facebook and Twitter accounts I will have to carry on using my work phone and laptop for work-orientated social media bits and bobs.

3/ I am allowed to use my PC for an hour a day..for personal Facebook, or Instagram (if I can make that work without a mobile), internet banking, emailing, Skype etc. But only an hour (?!?!?!).

4/ Phone calls to my land-line are most definitely allowed. This is designed to be a challenge and an experiment…not to send me totally stir-crazy.

5/ I’m probably going to have to make set plans with people, use physical maps and the biggie, BE ON TIME. (Oh dear).

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