Waldeaux | Umbrellas, Coffee and Mobile Phones – a Dangerous Combination
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Umbrellas, Coffee and Mobile Phones – a Dangerous Combination

This has been a relatively dry year, or at least it seems that way to me. I walk Ozzy twice a day when I’m here, and I have probably been rained on about three times. One such time was when I was recording the sound of heavy summer rain under a tree canopy that we have ended up using on The Smile, shortly to be released on the Dry The Life EP. Another was this morning when I went to retrieve my car from Church Street car park in Manchester after it was locked in last night after The Posies gig at Night & Day.

My eye level seems to be at a perfect height to get spiked by umbrellas of all shapes and sizes, apart from those that are domed and therefore have their spikes pointing downwards. Oddly, that seems always to have been the case, whatever height I have been. Maybe that is because I have mainly been a bit taller than those around me. “Eeeh! Isn’t your John getting tall!” the visiting ladies would say to my Mum and Dad. But actually I would prefer a return to that teenage embarrassment than to have my eye poked out by someone wielding an umbrella at my face.

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I hate crowded trams and trains, so I set off into Manchester to retrieve my car this morning before 7:30am to avoid the claustrophobic crush. I think there were about four people on my tram who were not looking down at the mobile phones. A journey to work on public transport has never been the most conversational experience, but now it seems the human race actively avoids eye contact with anybody, preferring instead to remain cocooned in the virtual bubble of perceived safety their devices provide. Pretty good territory for pickpockets I would bet.

A couple of years ago I went to the Lowry Theatre with a group of friends to see Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford (Squeeze) and at the interval I decided to remain in my circle seat while the rest went off to the bar. As I looked down into the stalls below, everyone – yes, everyone – who had not also gone to the bar was on their phones or tablets. There was no conversation. None at all. While I can forgive the early morning commuters who would rather wake up in their own time than have some cheery bald bloke pass the time of day with them, I really cannot understand why anyone would go to a gig or social event of any kind and spend so much time on fuelling the narcissism that these devices have created in people.

And there is an element of “look at me” in all of this as phones become physically bigger again (and therefore less mobile). People seem to revel in displaying the fact that they own the latest device. It’s almost like some kind of courting ritual – “Wow! He’s got a big phone”. And as I pondered all of this rubbish on my journey into town, I was suddenly aware that a large percentage of the people who were outside in the rain waiting for my tram to pass them were carrying cartons of branded coffee. There was a percentage increase the closer the tram got to the city centre. I don’t have the figures I’m afraid so you are going to have to take my word for it. Let’s face it, nobody on that tram would be able to corroborate the evidence anyway because they were all looking down at their bloody phones!

Finally alighting from the tram at Piccadilly Gardens, I immediately had a near miss from a person wielding an umbrella, took evasive action to avoid bumping into a bloke carrying a cup of coffee in one hand and an umbrella in another, and as I walked across the gardens in the direction of the car park it was like a game of dodgems as I weaved and swerved my way between people looking down at the phones, slurping coffee on the go, or simply being unable to see from under the canopies they were carrying while doing one of the other two things. Men. Please don’t try and multi task. We are shit at it.

Anyway, having run this gauntlet of incredibly busy people ignoring each other, I finally arrived at Church Street car park to find that the price of my car’s overnight stay there was one pound less than the price of a ticket into one of the best gigs I have seen in a long time. The world really is going mad.

Dry The Life EP due for release late November / early December. Look out for it. Listen to it. And if you like it, buy it!

 

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