Goodbye Old Friend

15 Mar

Yesterday I parted with a friend. It was the end of an era. My friend had been with me at my happiest and saddest moments; had seen me as an awkward teenager, a wide-eyed undergrad, a shiny new career girl and a married woman. My friend had been by my side every day for 13 years. Literally by my side. My friend had lived in my handbag.

Yesterday I cancelled my UK mobile phone contract. Over the years the handsets had come and gone, but my number had stayed the same. I’d had that number back when BT Cellnet existed and O2 was a just a chemical symbol.

My first phone at age 15 had an external aerial, and a green screen with pixelated letters. Using it to make calls was an absolute novelty, but as hardly any of my friends yet had mobiles (how times change – I believe kids now get a mobile when they enroll at Tumble Tots) I’d end up calling my mum to see how she’d been since I left the house five minutes ago to go to the bus stop.

At 17 I upgraded my Ericsson (I think the model name was Brick 2.0) to a comparatively sleek Nokia 3210, which had rounded corners! It still had the sicky-green screen and pixelated letters but it also had games! A game on a mobile! Who’d have thought! In fact everyone in our school sixth form had a Nokia, so we could all compare our scores on the dreadful but addictive Snake game – essentially a moving line which got longer as it “ate” the dots. For a generation that was used to PlayStation graphics, we were strangely hypnotized by something which could have been drawn by a blindfolded 3 year old.

Dates with my boyfriend (now husband) were arranged by text and I would always hastily scroll to the bottom of the message to check for the all-important inclusion of an “x”, which then evolved to analyzing how many “x”s there were, whether they were “x” or “X” and whether there was a positive or negative correlation between number of “x”s and the number of previous texts. (Yes, I’m lucky he didn’t just have me committed for severe pedantry.)

At university my mobile was the centre of my social life (this was B.F. – Before Facebook). By then everyone had a mobile phone, and calling someone on their landline was the action of a sociopath. And, in my final year of studying, my mobile was my gateway to graduate jobs, as most of my first-round interviews were over the telephone.

It perhaps seems overly sentimental to feel a tinge of sadness over the loss of a mobile phone number, but over the years I’ve become quite attached to it. When I think about the conversations and messages that set of digits has been privy to… well, it must have listened in to an incredible journey of learning and discovery – of people, of culture and of myself. I wish I could call that awkward 15 year old now on her big Ericsson brick phone, with the sicky-green screen and the pixelated letters and tell her not to worry, the next 13 years are going to be a huge adventure… 🙂

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2 Responses to “Goodbye Old Friend”

  1. Beverley Broadhurst 16 March, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    Lovely read Suzie. xxxx

    • suscatty 16 March, 2011 at 10:39 am #

      Thank you Bev! Hope you are well xx

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