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Further Writing by Swan Morrison

Narrowly Escaping Cyberspace

My trusty and reliable Nokia 1100 died last week. It had been my constant companion since 2003.

After a suitable period of grieving for my old friend, I consulted the Internet with a view to buying another. EBay had several on offer for 15 or less.

‘You don’t want another of those old things,’ said my brother-in-law, that evening at the Dog and Duck.

‘Don’t I?’ I said in a puzzled tone.

‘It can’t do anything,’ John replied.

‘It can make telephone calls,’ I countered, ‘and it can receive calls from other people too!’

He looked at me as if wondering how to explain the wheel to someone who had only recently grasped fire. ‘On modern smartphones,’ he said, ‘you can read your emails; watch TV; listen to the radio; use Skype; surf the Net; take photographs; film videos; look at an interactive view of the night sky; get maps of where you are, and so many other things that I can’t even begin to explain them all.’ He removed his smartphone from his pocket. ‘This is a Motorola Moto G – it’s not that expensive, and it’s got great reviews on the Net. The Dog and Duck’s a Wi-Fi hotspot,’ he added, switching on his new phone.

‘Oh good,’ I encouragingly replied, not wishing to dampen his enthusiasm with an enquiry as to what a “Wi-Fi hotspot” might be.

Fifteen minutes later, I had watched the first two minutes of EastEnders on iPlayer; had a brief conversation with Uncle Arthur in Scotland on Skype; looked at some photos and videos of John’s recent holiday in Wales and watched Ralph Mctell perform Streets of London on YouTube.

An impassioned debate was underway in my head. ‘It’s clever,’ said one part of me. ‘In fact, it makes Captain Kirk’s “communicator” look like Caxton’s first printing press. But, you don’t need one!’

There was another part of me, however, that had regressed to the age of seven on a Christmas morning. Santa had arrived whilst I had slept, and he had, once again that year, circumnavigated the complex alarms and traps that I had painstakingly erected - once and for all to confirm or disprove his existence.

The sole item in my, imagination generated, stocking was a Motorola Moto G smartphone which I inspected as Aled Jones sang Walking in the Air in my seven year old mind.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Next morning I drove to the Park and Ride in Winchester. There were several phone shops in the city, and I had already called to enquire about the best deals on the smartphone that John had recommended.

It was a beautiful summer morning, and as the Park and Ride bus carried me towards the city centre, I enjoyed looking out at the trees, the grass, the flowers and the birds, and all the human activity that we were passing on the way.

I then casually glanced around the bus. I observed one passenger and then the next - and then the next. All my fellow travellers were totally absorbed in whatever was appearing on the screens of their mobile devices – none paused to glance elsewhere.

As we got off the bus, I turned to the woman who had disembarked beside me. ‘What’s the weather like in Winchester at the moment?’ I asked.

She accommodatingly pressed a few buttons on her phone. ‘It’s a beautiful summer morning,’ she helpfully replied, pointing to the image of a blazing sun on the screen of her smartphone.

‘Thank you,’ I said, ‘that’s helped me more than you know.’

I crossed the square to where the return Park and Ride bus could be caught, in order to urgently begin my journey home.

I seemed to recall that one seller on eBay had offered a Nokia 1100 for just 8, and I wanted make my bid for it before anyone else noticed that cyberspace was surrounded by a three dimensional, full colour, surround-sound reality.