Out Of Contact…



My mobile phone (smart phone) finally gave up the ghost this weekend. The battery refused to charge. First there was anger, but that was eventually followed by resignation.

We had shared five years, difficult years, together. 

The young man in the phone shop, EE, was at first sympathetic. He placed upon himself some professional concern when I told him that the phone had gone and that I was out-of-contract. Those last three magical words, which make up the phrase that makes the ears and attention of sales people lift up, are powerful. They are signifiers of of the twenty-first century’s in-built obsolescence approach to the business of living. Like me, my phone was out-of-date and not worth the contract it had once been written on.

“It’s an iPhone 5,” the smug little bastard told me. “There is nothing you can do.”

I once listened to an indifferent doctor make a similar pronouncement over my brother-in-law. He was in the final stages of dying a rather painful death with all of his major organs shutting down, one after the other in some crazy domino-effect. He drank too much, way too much, and had obviously crossed over into that unmentionable state that if unmentionable unless you are in the safe confines of a group of people suffering from the same issue.


“There is nothing that can be done for him,” she said with calculated intent. 

That in itself was shocking enough, but when said in front of our three young daughters, three doting nieces, I found the lack of care criminal. One of our girls ran to the end of the ward and sat mutely before bursting into tears on the return journey home. The rest of us had sat through his final minutes with the doctor conveniently finding other things to tend to rather than dealing with the sad alcoholic who was quickly dying in bed 4.

My phone will be replaced. It still has my brother-in-law’s contact details in it and will remain having them for an awful long time to come.


“I believe that life ends with death, and that is all.

You haven’t just gone shopping; just the same,

in my new black leather phone book there’s your name

and the disconnected number I still call.”

Tony Harrison



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