Bluetoothing with the youth

Phone technology is revolutionising our lives, even if some of us have no real idea what it all means.


“I’m calling from the Land of Car,” I said to my partner the other day. I’m just getting used to this bluetooth thing in our superduper way-too-good-for-us car, although I’m not totally confident about it. I had to get to an early meeting the other day which meant dropping only son at breakfast club, daughter three at school early with money for the bus, giving money to daughter two to get various trains, organising pick-ups and general “logistics”. Things more or less went to plan in the early stages, although I had to do a last-minute sprint and slide to get into breakfast club and daughter three forgot her keys so had to take mine.

I was feeling fairly in control, but then I hit a traffic jam. The motorway was closed. I took the diversion and tried to ring my partner on bluetooth to inform him about the traffic. “No phone recognised”, it said. What? Everyone’s phone is on there and mine was in my bag. The car knows this kind of stuff. “Call x”, I commanded it as it has a call button on the steering wheel. Nothing happened. I pressed some buttons. My partner’s work details came up. His phone was connected and he wasn’t even in the car.

I pulled over and realised that I’d left my phone behind. I decided the diversion was going to take me twice as long as the normal route, meaning I would miss my meeting and I had no phone to warn anyone about it. I headed home. However, en route I remembered that I didn’t have my keys. After rapping on the window for several minutes, a sleepy daughter one – on her day off – woke up and let me in.

“I’ll just stay for an hour or two, rearrange my meeting for later and do a conference call then the motorway will be open,” I said. She was not at all interested. So I headed out again two hours later. The motorway was still closed. I took the long way round, accompanied by a call to my partner. The phone doesn’t speak Spanish so asking it to call him doesn’t work. You have to pronounce his name in the English way.  I’ve actually got him to ring me just so I can hear the phone announced that what it thinks his name is is calling. Such is entertainment in this day and age.

The long drive meant I could listen to discussions about the Brexit quagmire. Oh joy. I was talking to daughter one the other day. I remember doing some research on Cuba several decades ago and talking to a poet who used Fidel Castro’s speech rhythms in her poetry because his long orations provided the background to her childhood. “Brexit will be the same for you,” I told daughter one. She grimaced. She’s researching ways to get out of the UK at the moment.

I got to my destination and there was the obligatory dash to the meeting in the rain. Will I be doing this at 65, I wondered, and not for the first time.

As I was running I noticed that only son had posted something on the parent whatsapp group for school. Fortunately, it was not too embarrassing and consisted of only son dressed as a pig doing the floss. Much of my life is spent searching for my phone. Either I leave it somewhere or someone else uses it and ‘forgets’ where they put it. It should have some sort of glowing light on it, like a heat-seeking missile.

After several meetings I went to pick up only son from his friend’s house. “Can you text your sister that she needs to leave her laptop out so I can watch a video on it for work?” I asked. Only son is used to being my secretary. He picked up my phone. “Siri, call xx. ‘Mum needs your laptop.'” “Message sent,” said a disembodied voice. “Done,” said only son, barely looking up from TT Rockstars, the timestable app he has installed on my phone. “I’ve just got 9,513 points,” he said. “Wow,” said I. I have absolutely no idea what this means, but it sounded impressive.


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