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those be the rules…

..and rules are made to be broken right?

It’s half the joy of life after all. And I really could have done with being rebellious today.

I’ll be honest, I have had some minor #fails during mobile-less March: kinda like the minor faults you get in your driving test. They’re not brilliant but you’re still mainly doing well.

#ConfessionAlert: I have had to resort to using my work mobile a couple of times.

Only in pushed situations. Like Thursday night when I was worried I was about to end up in Milton Keynes after the M11 was closed post-dropping friends home after our climbing wall adventure. Turns out that the A428 really does lead to the A1198. Maybe I should trust my sense of direction and memory on a more regular basis.

It’s been tough, I won’t lie. But I’ve stuck to my guns and resolutely stayed away from my mobile which is still propped next to the little tiffany lamp (and yet to be unwrapped waterproof case) in my lounge, where I left it on the 28th February. I’ve not picked it up or switched it back on. Which considering my day yesterday, is really something.

So… the latest issue – I managed to lock myself out of online banking. Normally that would be fine as I can still pay on card and get cash out of the wall. But yesterday, I needed to transfer some money to a friend quite urgently. Piece of cake online right? Well, yes. Until you lock yourself out of your bank account. They give you a number to call (which incidentally is the wrong number and gives you another number, also wrong.. meaning you make three phone calls when you’re already late for work). Then they give you your options: receive a code in the post “But that takes four working days” or have a code sent to your mobile. Great.

“Oh  – you don’t have a phone because you gave it up for March. Well….[loooong pause as she considers how ludicrous this is].. you’ll have to either go into a branch with photo identification or wait until your code arrives.”

Not so helpful when someone is relying on you with a deadline that passed 12 hours ago. Turns out the Royston branch is closed. And getting to the one in Cambridge centre means a 45 minute torturous drive down Mill Road (PEOPLE THE DOUBLE YELLOWS ARE THERE FOR A REASON!), a £2.30 parking ticket for half an hour, and – when you finally make it to the bank (already 15 mins and counting over your half hour lunch break) there’s a politely inpatient 20 minute queue. When you start to think you really can’t take any more, thank god, a nice uniformed lady puts you out of your misery: if you’re not taking cash out she can take you off to a side room and help with your query. Hip bloody horah! (I may have muttered worse under my breath).

It occurred to me – as I sat five cars back from a lorry unloading on Mill Road’s double yellows – that it may have been a forgiveable ‘fault’ to have just used my mobile phone this morning to receive the code which would have unlocked my internet banking. But then I feel like it’s a slippery slope. It’s one thing to use my work phone for a minute or two in an emergency situation..and quite another to turn the iPhone 5s (which really is the thing I’m giving up for the month) back on. Then I’ll know I’ve broken the spell. And I can do it again. I mean… if it even works. Let’s face it – I did dunk it in the bath. So there’s quite a high possibility that after all of this, and even after 32 days of drying may not come back to life. At which point I could have a nervous breakdown. Or maybe, by that stage, rationality will prevail and I’ll be able to cope, knowing that I really don’t need a mobile phone in order to run my life.

But that’s the rub isn’t it. That’s exactly why you do need a mobile phone. The fact that it was one of two hassle free (and one exceedingly hassle-ful) options with internet-banking-lock-out gate today demonstrates with stark clarity just how in-disposable they have become.

We need our mobile phones for life!

As I’ve concurred with friends who have children: if you have a family you couldn’t do what I am doing and give up your phone for a month. Even the daily (daily??) school reports are sent by SMS these days. My Aunt Gin recounted to me how maddened she was that her reverie on a beach in Alderney, was disturbed with a reminder that her dental hygienist appointment was the following week. If you don’t have a mobile phone, you’re basically in loose orbit.

I  have to confess that I also miss stupid things that come as part of the deal with a mobile. Like emojis. God I love an emoji. They’re fun. And I think part of their brilliance is that when you can be bothered they a/ be quite comedy and b/ take some of the chance/guess work out of positioning/understanding the tone of a text message (so notoriously fickle and easy to misread). Also missed: bookmarks – super convenient and mildly comforting when you know you can come back to that web page when you have more time; having a torch to hand without even having to think about it; listening to the new section of improvisation you’ll be playing in the gig next week on tap, thanks to three taps in iTunes (confession: this may have been another ‘minor fault’/situation where I’ve made use of my work phone); sending silly voice messages to friends because it’s just a bit novel still on Whatsapp (and I can kinda do a 40 second ‘link’ like I’m on radio again – yes I know, looooser. Anyway).

I reckon that’s another benefit that comes with your phone, how it can disguise your inadequacies on a daily basis. With me, the moments when I’ve felt absolutely the most stressed is when I’ve been late for people. You’d think that maybe this should stress me out anyway. And to be truthful, it does. But it’s at a manageable level then. Because sometimes (especially when you’re driving) you have to just think, ‘I’m not going to race; it’s not ideal but I’m late; lets not be dangerous; after all will being 20 minutes late in this instance matter in 5 years time?’.

But the difference with a phone, is that before you set out on your journey, you can let whoever you’re meeting know that you’re going to be late so at least they know. Somehow it’s so much worse if you’ve not had the courtesy to inform them of how rubbish you are. They might think you’re standing them up, or you’ve had an accident or something terrible has happened….The solution, purely and simply, at the moment would be to be on time. But this seems to be an impossibility for me. Being 20 minutes late ALL THE TIME seems to be so deeply ingrained into my very genetic make up and being, that I think I’m incapable of doing anything about it (the flip-side being that I am quite ambitious and usually fit more into my day then most would imagine you could??). I was even late for the gig on Saturday – prompting an incredulous:

“What time do you call this?” from Kev the lead singer/guitarist. To which the only viable response really is:

“Erm…. Dawn time?”

The only saving grace is that my friends all know I will be late. It’s just one of those reliable facts about the universe. As sure as the day is long (that’s not a sensible expression – the day is never long enough), I will be late. Not ridiculously so. But enough to have to apologise…every time. But conversely I also kind of think ‘love me, love my lateness’. The two come hand in hand. And nobody’s perfect….(!).

There have been some more positive realisations in the last three weeks of mobile-less-ness too. Like:

  • Knowing that even though I’ve not been sleeping long, I’ve been do so better. Maybe something to do with the lack of interference from those 3 or 4G phone waves or whatever they are (who knows) with my sleep patterns?
  • Receiving wonderful and unexpected cards and letters from family and friends I’ve not heard from in ages, even Steve who I worked with a lifetime ago on Hertbeat FM (‘the glory days’ as we..or maybe just I, named it) who thinks this whole thing is just “so you!” and “radio gold” and “thank goodness for blogging so you can still share it with the world”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA: I wanted to include the bigger version so you can see how brilliant the cat card is and how much it looks like Ron (my cat – now with my mum) or as Steve put it: “a lady like you on the front. It’s definitely not a cat in disguise so you don’t steal it”. Ex-Hertbeat FM listeners will get this. If you don’t, ask me another time.

That someone thinks you’re interesting and significant enough to sit down and write to, really does make you feel like the luckiest person in the world. And amazing to have family who are like friends and friends who are like family.

  • Understanding that even if I’m annoyingly unavailable on my phone, my friends-family still love me enough to surprise me with a lunch just to cheer me up. So – despite no phone – I get to see (which is 100 times better) some of my most favourite people in the world all in one place for a few hours (Amy – organiser extraordinaire – Kath, Polly, Nikki, Lucille!). Happily my friends won’t be so irritated at my inaccessibility that they will drop me. Turns out they know me well enough to know I’m not ignoring them and being rude. Which has been an irrational anxiety for me throughout this. Probably says a lot, but we’ll save the psychological dissection for another time.
  • An amazing Sunday last week, with scissors, glue and campervan-adorned-wrapping-paper I’ve been saving up for god knows how long: three undisturbed hours making cards, then sitting down to write back to, and surprise, friends and family with my own little mini-card-epistles. I’ve realised that actually, when I’m not stressed and rushing at work, my handwriting can be quite neat. I have also realised I no longer have a favourite pen. And would like to fix that.


  • I’ve added addresses of new friends to my address book. Yes I do have one (call me old-fashioned): I had been meaning to make a spreadsheet of all my friends and family, their addresses and phone numbers, so I had a complete list of all those important enough to send birthday and Christmas cards to. But it’s dawned on me, since I dropped my mobile and reintroduced myself to my address book, that everyone who is important enough to deserve me writing to them, is already present and correct in there! I’m in a good habit of writing down someone’s address every time I get wind of a new one. Who needs the communism of a faceless-conformity-loving spreadsheet?! Saved myself a job there. And feel comforted by the thought that – if there was ever a mobile phone defying sun flare or a zombie-apocalypse – I could grab that bright pink address book with it’s sky blue flowers and capably track down everyone I care about (so long as I also had one of those long samurai swords… to deal with the zombies).

This brings me to another thing, beating procrastination: I’ve done the address book thing; I’ve moved my TV and hammered down the wires with those little round hook things; I’ve bought a lampshade for the base which has been naked for 14 months; I’ve spent hours in the kitchen, undistracted, cooking and eating delicious nutritious dishes from Cook Books (so nice compared to a phone that I even spent half an hour copying out a website-only bread recipe the other day); I even plan to empty the cardboard box of kitchen things hidden under a table cloth in my front room tomorrow (and that’s been there since I moved in. Two years ago).

It’s all to do with being less distracted: distractions are brilliant at feeding procrastination. Did I already mention about how washing up is quicker when you are only thinking about that? Same for putting your washing away. And putting on your make up.

I’ve also realised that (without distractions and with less mediums to communicate on) I have such a lot to say. Even before I shared my (slightly kooky) internal monologue with the world on radio, I’ve been that way. I would hide in my mum’s bedroom at the age of 15 and chat to Polly or Viki for at least 3 hours a week. Well, until the phone bill landed later that month and Mum’s detective work on 01904 468546 revealed the culprit.

Perhaps every person just has a certain capacity for X number of words per day and somehow or another you will always find a way to fulfil that quota?? A number of people have rung actually, since the land line was fixed on Monday (get in! Another victory over procrastination) and it’s been lovely to chat and hear their voices rather than just seeing their names pop up alongside text-font on a phone screen. But I’ve I’ve also had to write my thoughts down. A LOT.



“Oh. Hello thoughts. There you are. It’s been a while.”

So it’s been a mixed bag of (sometimes angry, sometimes chilled, fairly bi-polar) frogs.

And I do quite like the romance of not having a mobile.

And having to arrange rendezvous points. And being given a number on a scrap of paper (don’t get too excited…) for my friend Lucille when I needed to call her from my land line the next morning, to tell her the Sunday lunch plan.

On that note(!) however, my friend Kath has decided that mobile-less March could be just the love-potion I need:

“How brilliant would it be if you got a date this month. Without any online dating or mobile phone and not having to use the internet at all. That would be AMAAAAAZING.” (Yes she said it like that – she gets almost as excited about these things as I do. Actually, thinking about it, probably more so).

Notes and numbers on scraps of paper are definitely a little enchanting. So who knows. Here’s hoping…

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