Ooh, I do like a good coincidence, don’t you?
Okay, Dr Jung called it ‘synchronicity’. Both mean two things happening at the same time. Latin, Greek, take your pick.
So, you know how you often wake up in the morning and you’ve been dreaming something and it’s too cold to get up, and you lie there spinning the various threads of the dream out into a more conscious kind of narrative, to get to the ending, until it all falls apart and the outside world breaks in?
No? Oh well.
Anyway, the previous night – this was last night – I’d gone to choir and a nice couple, Ian and Paula, who hadn’t been coming for a while, turned up, and I got chatting with Paula. But just before they arrived I’d been fumbling in my usual way to put together a text message on my Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 ‘Smart’ phone, for my son, about giving him a lift to the bike test centre the following morning early.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m crap at texting. For a start, you have to shake the phone violently to get it to flip into horizontal mode, which gives you bigger keys. I can’t work with the tiny keys you get when it’s in vertical mode.My spelling goes all to pot, and then you have to get the tiny cursor that I can’t quite see, back to the place where you want to change the mistake, and it rubs out the whole line and you have to put it all in again.
And then if you stop working on the text for more than a few seconds the screen goes to black, after which you have hell’s own job getting it to fire up again, by which time it’s in a different place and you sometimes lose the message or worse, the thing won’t Send because although it says ‘Peter’ in the ‘to’ box it doesn’t know where he is any longer. Of course, you can reset the length of time before the screen goes to black, can’t you.
Hence the description ‘Smart’ phone, because it’s completely stupid. This is the kind of Orwellian reverse language, the doublespeak invented by the advertising industry, like when it says ‘300 FREE MINUTES’ they give you for nothing, provided you pay double for the contract.
So I urgently needed to Send the message in case the lad needed an early-morning ride to the bike centre, but the screen had gone to black and I am shaking and pounding the phone to make it light up again, so while Paula is telling me something interesting that happened, I am trying to get the message back so I can key Send, and I am aware of how a) I must be seeming very rude because of not paying close attention, and b) I haven’t heard a word Paula has said, so if she interrogates me on the subject or anticipates a cogent reply I am going to have to shake my head sympathetically and put on a rueful expression and say something like, yeah, that’s how it goes.
Instead, I settle for an explanation and an apology, and Paula says, no, it’s me who was interrupting, sorry (she’s American, from the Midwest and endlessly polite), and that’s the end of the conversation for the rest of the evening.
Now, I have woken up and it is too cold in the room to get up and anyway, I finished work yesterday, and I have been dreaming that some higher authority is taking me to task for fiddling with my phone and texting while someone is trying to tell me something important. Only instead of Paula it’s my mother.
And after a few minutes of… okay, I’m going to use the word, at the risk of looking like an overliterary smartarse, ‘ratiocination‘… the whole argument, the long-winded explanations and apologies, seems just too trivial and over-rehearsed to carry on thinking about.
I have by now completely forgotten about the real incident the night before, the memory comes back to me only later while I am being moderately excited about the fabulous coincidence that happens when I turn on the Today programme (BBC Radio 4’s flagship breakfast news show).
Because I hear the presenter say ‘It’s fourteen minutes to eight’ and immediately he goes on to link to an item that has been raised by listeners complaining about – and he introduces two studio guests, lifestyle pundits who have been invited along to argue amusingly for the next two-and-a-half minutes about – how discourteous and disrespectful it is when so many people nowadays especially The Young are constantly texting and typing while you are trying to tell them something, instead of listening to you politely….
Come on, how synchronistic is that? No, get off that damn phone and tell me, now.
Synchronicity hounds might like that the same day last week my kitchen drain is blocked-up, probably with coffee grounds, flooding the yard, I pass a gallstone…