1 EAGLETON NOTES: April 2024



Tuesday 30 April 2024

Phonaholics Anonymous

When I leave the house I take my diary and my iPhone. I usually carry my wallet too but that's less important. These days I rarely use cash for anything other than gratuities and I keep £ coins in my coat pocket for that purpose. 

Yesterday morning was perfect gardening weather but I had to make a quick visit to town to the medical practice, to The Woodlands to collect something from one friend for another friend, and for a few groceries.

I did my shop and went to the till and put my few things through and into my bag. It was at this point that I realised that I forgot my phone and therefore my store and payment app. Fortunately I had my wallet in my pocket.

I had to resort to my credit cards in my wallet. However neither had been used for the supermarket before so needed the PIN number. I use them so infrequently I had no idea what they were. I needed my phone for that! Fortunately my debit card worked. 

I spent the rest of the day realising just how dependent I have become on my 'phone. What has really frightened me, though, is the fact that my brain couldn't see past the absence of the phone. I had sufficient actual cash in my wallet and pocket but it actually never occurred to me to check. (Since I wrote that I have realised that the self-service checkouts have no provision for cash).

I am off to join Phonaholics Anonymous. 

On the way home the cherry blossom calmed me down:

Sunday 21 April 2024


I have always written a lot of letters. I use a collection of fountain pens and different ink depending on my mood. It costs me a small fortune in postage stamps but it's worth it.

My last post was about oral non-face-to-face communication but when I was a youngster letters were still the way almost everyone communicated with their relatives and so on who didn't live nearby.  

Then came The Internet and home computers which allowed us to send emails. Email was cemented in the public consciousness with the notorious “you've got mail” sound of email arriving for AOL users, which formed the cornerstone of the 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy, "You've Got Mail".

Then, for me, came Blogging in June 2007 as a way of communicating what I was doing in Scotland and New Zealand to my friends and family in the 'other' country.

In 2004 Facebook arrived but I was never part of it until 2010 when it was possible to 'post' your Blogger post on Facebook using Networked Blogs. That was discontinued by Facebook long ago but I stayed on Facebook though I rarely post.

As well as emails we could text each other on our mobile phones.

Twitter (Now called X and owned by Elon Musk) arrived 21 March 2006

WhatsApp (Meta) arrived in 2009

Facetime (Apple) June 24, 2010

Instagram (Meta)  started on 6 October 2010.

Messenger (Facebook) in 2011

Telegram (Pavel Durov and Nikolai Durov) on the 14 August 2013.

TikTok (ByteDance) in September 2016.

In 1944 (the year of my birth) a simple letter in the UK was 2½d which is the equivalent of 56p today. In fact a first class stamp today for the same letter is £1.35. However, except for  communicating by landline or mobile phone which are usually included in monthly rental these days all the other methods I've mentioned above are available "free". 

Of course many of the platforms and apps I've mentioned can be used for free voice calls as well as messaging 

What writing this post has done is make me realise that our old concept of communicating using post and landline phone is now verging on irrelevant despite the fact that we communicate much more than we ever did. 

I suppose the next thing would be a "Beam me up Scottie" scenario. 

Wednesday 17 April 2024

"The Phonebook"

My mother insisted on having a phone before she would move into their new house in 1944. With it came The Telephone Directory.

I've never lived in a house without a phone however I no longer use the housephone and few people phone me on it because they know it's easier to get me on my mobile phone.

I had my first mobile (cellphone) in 2000. It was originally a requirement of my work when I wanted to go and see my parents (in England) because I was involved in a case where I had to be in touch with my work. The unit was the size of an attache case and involved considerable embarrassment if one went somewhere for lunch and 'hid' it under one's chair. 

I have never been without a mobile phone since then. I still have the same number (with additions as the mobile networks expanded)  and I have been with Vodafone and its predecessor since the start.

Skype arrived in August 2003 and was groundbreaking. So far as I'm aware when it started it just allowed voice calls from PC to PC and little else. It went on to be an 'alternative' world phone service. I think Skype has now to all intents and purposes been discontinued.

I started writing this because British Telecom has just published the very last Phone Book. The first Telephone Directory published by BT which became an absolutely essential reference work in every house with a phone was in 1880. The irony is that now communications are worldwide and instant the PhoneBook has become an irrelevance. Why? Because more and more people are choosing not to be in the  directory and don't even have a 'telephone' relying solely on their mobile phone. In any case  landline phone numbers  available to search on one's computer or mobile phone.

Friday 5 April 2024

Thank You NHS

So far this year has been unlike any I can recall. It's the first year since I started blogging that I've been away from Blogland so frequently.

I lost my younger brother. I still keep wanting to send him wee messages about things and have to remind myself that he's no longer around to answer them. 

This week my son, Gaz, had his fiftieth birthday. What!! 

When one gets to one's eightieth year life should, in theory, be slowing down. In practice it seems to me that it's speeding up instead. The date of my birth seems further and further away on a daily basis.

All of a sudden things that I thought nothing about like climbing up ladders and wandering around roofs checking them have become things to either avoid or think very carefully about because my sense of balance isn't what it was. 

My electric foldable bike has suddenly become too heavy and cumbersome to fold and put in the back of my car. Indeed my balance riding it had become rather problematic too. 

I've suddenly realised that I'm no longer the spring chicken that I once was. 

Don't get me wrong I'm neither complaining nor being maudling. I'm intensely proud of the fact that this body I inhabit and which, but for the then newly formed NHS would never have got past its teens, has served me well and is continuing so to do.

Despite having cancer since my diagnosis and operation in 1997 I am still being treated successfully. Every 4 months now I get my uretic stent renewed. 

I have 5 or 6 stents in my heart since a heart attack in 2000. 

I had a new knee eight years ago and it is so good I usually forget that it's not the original. 

All this makes me realise that despite the underfunding and apparent attempts to privatise it and all the unfortunate hundreds of thousands of people waiting for appointments and treatment there are still millions of us who have benefitted hugely and who are still here to say 'Thank You' to the 1948 Labour Government which had the courage to establish it.