The other week, Planet Mondo returned from a relaxing (?!) weeks holiday 'up north', only to find himself a little stir crazy at not having had the net at his fingertips all week... Man I now know how he felt, having just returned from a week away in Dorset...
I'll be honest, I felt a little smug when I read of poor old PM's plight. Y'see, it would never happen to me, because I've got a 3G phone up my sleeve, providing me with sneaky access, no matter where I am, to my e-mails, blog, MySpace, Google and all those other things that stop you doing what you are supposed to be doing. But oh how wrong I was!!
Dorset is a regular haunt for us. This was our second visit to West Dorset, and I remember having no problems with mobile coverage last time around. BUT... I forgot that I have changed service providers since the last visit. No worries though, coz 'Three' boast a 99.5% network coverage of the whole of the UK, what could possibly go wrong??! Well quite a lot as it happens!! Not only could I not get any 3G coverage for pretty much the entire holiday, I couldn't get any 2G coverage either!! These are just some of the places we went where I got bugger all signal... Dorchester, Lyme Regis, West Bay, Burton Bradstock, Charmouth and Cerne Abbas. The only exceptions were a full strength signal in Bridport (where, rather pathetically, I ended up driving through on the way home most days just to get a connection) and a day trip to Glastonbury where I got a rather poor 'one-bar' signal in one single part of the high street.
I felt like I was in an experiment for a low budget TV show for BBC3, where, stripped of your phone and access to the net, you are left to fend for yourself! As much as I tried to not let it bother me, it DID bother me, and it's that that concerns me. When these gadgets are on tap you don't realise how much you use them, and since returning home, I am now starting to notice just how much I use the internet and my mobile phone. It's rather alarming to realise you are a mobile-junkie, I pretty much always have my phone with me where ever I go, and the odd time I do forget it (and it is only for that reason, looking back, I can't remember a time when I ever chose to leave my phone behind), ensures an evening of repetitive 'pocket patting' and a slight feeling of nausea!
I mean what the hell did we do before the net and mobile phones anyway??!! How did we ever meet up with anyone or find out about obscure rubbish??! I can remember going to music festivals in the 80's and early 90's where there were 'message tents' and 'message posts' set up all around the site. These things were heaving with thousands of bits of paper like "Sam, are you here?, meet us by the beer tent at 7.30, Charlie"... I genuinely think that not a single person was ever helped by this service! Within a hour of arriving at Glastonbury festival these days, I know where all my mates are, which field(s) they are camping in, and where and when we are going to meet up. I even remember one year at Reading festival some entrepreneur selling (yes, you read it right, SELLING!) football scores!!! this was a good 16 odd years ago, and I remember he was charging 50p PER SCORE!!! Can you imagine being that out of touch these days??
The weird thing is, somehow I miss those days. It was all so much simpler then, and wasn't the fact that nobody could get in touch with you for 3 days part of the appeal? A chance to really get away from it all and enjoy yourself. Now when I'm walking round the green field at Glastonbury I can't get away from hearing people talking to the office, just making sure that all important deal is going through OK. It's really sad that we don't seem to be able to switch off any more. Is it the faster pace of life and work that has sent us this way, or did we freely choose to make ourselves continually in contact with the world?
Answers on a postcard please... no hold on, e-mail them to me, no, better still, text me... NOW!!
PS - If anyone from 'Three' mobile is reading, that 99.5% coverage boast of yours is absolute bollocks!
Jeff Hawke Jnr
22 hours ago