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Ian O'Doherty: The day I realised I was an old codger

So, there I am, standing in a phone shop, trying to explain to the guy behind the counter that as I am registered with O2, I should be able to buy a new phone and still keep my old number.

As I mentioned last week, I lost mine just before Christmas and had decided, through a combination of stubbornness and laziness, to see how long I could go without one.

Eventually, the missus put her foot down and said that I could either get a new phone or get a new place to live (the liberty of not having the phone was a boon for me but a pain in the arse for her when she couldn't find out when I was coming home).

So, there I was on Tuesday, becoming increasingly exasperated with the phone guy who kept insisting that I needed a SIM card to keep the number, while I tried to explain that if I had the bloody SIM card I wouldn't need the phone, would I?

And then, after a 10-minute argument in Pidgin English, I realised what the problem was -- I had gone into the bloody Vodafone shop on Henry Street, and not the O2 one I should have been in.

After apologising and doing the walk of shame out the door, I felt like a complete gobshite -- I mean, what sort of completely out of touch eejit doesn't understand the difference between phone companies?

Then, when I finally did manage to make it to the right shop, I was shown a bewildering display of devices that looked more like something from Star Trek than your common or garden phone.

As the salesman showed me around, I found myself virtually tugging on his sleeve, trying to explain that all I wanted was the basic model.

This received the kind of reaction you would expect if you went into a Maserati salesroom and asked if they had a Honda Civic you could buy.

The poor bloke looked genuinely nonplussed as I passed by the iPhones and other gizmos and went straight to the basic model, a replica of the one I had lost.

"But that doesn't even have email," he spluttered, the expression on his face a combination of pity and contempt.

But why would I want email? All I want is a bloody phone that takes calls and makes calls. Is that too much to ask?

And that's when it hit me -- I am just getting old.

I've never been a technologically savvy person. Or even a manually dexterous one.

I got a Meccano set as a child and the most complex thing I could come up with was placing two of the things (I have no idea what those 'things' were actually called) and screwing it together and then proudly showing it off to my parents who at that stage were beginning to get seriously worried about their first born's absolute incompetence in all matters manual.

But this is . . . this is somehow worse.

Because now I have decided that not only do I not understand modern technology, I bloody well hate it.

It seems strange and alien to me and I have basically decided that my days of being an angry young man are coming to an end -- and I'm morphing instead into a curmudgeonly old codger.

There's not a whole lot of a difference, it should be pointed out, but I have just decided that I'm done with all this new-fangled tech equipment.

Now, don't get me wrong, I realise that all the new gadgets are great; it's just that we don't really see eye to eye.

I had a similar experience just before Christmas when I was buying the missus an iPad as a pressie.

Did I want the 64 bit or the 320 bit (I have no idea what those figures mean or whether they're even accurate, so bear with me on this one)?

How the Hell should I know? I explained to the guy behind the counter that I rejected all this false technology but that 'er indoors is a bit of a techno geek and he suggested that maybe she should come in and have a chat with him rather than me wasting his time.

Eventually, after spending five minutes listening to him prattling on about various degrees of connectivity and blah blah blah, he realised that he might as well have been explaining the rules of poker to a dog.

"Look," he said, "this is the one I would like to have, so why don't you buy her that one?"

And so I did. It was, coincidentally, the most bloody expensive one, so I don't know whether he was working on commission or he just wanted me to sod off and give him time to talk to other customers who weren't complete spanners, but either way she liked it.

And, in fact, she liked it so much we never talk any more.

Instead, whenever I'm ranting and giving out (in a truly fascinating way, as I'm sure you'll believe) about politics or whatever shite is on the telly -- she controls the remote, so that happens quite a lot -- I'll look over and see her on the infernal bloody iPad, scrolling up and down and saying 'uh-huh' every few seconds to fool me into thinking that she's paying the blindest bit of attention.

No, me and modern technology don't get along with each other -- and you know what?

I'm fine with that fact. I'm fine with the fact that I've never sent a text, don't have an iPhone, don't know what an app is, and I'm completely down with the fact that I'm just rubbish when it comes to these things.

No, leave me alone with my telly, my copy of The Promise (the truly astonishing and exhaustive box set about Darkness On The Edge Of Town) and a few beers and then I'm a happy bunny.

And, I'm beginning to realise, an old one.


Irish Independent