Tim Brooke-Taylor, on a recent radio programme, admitted to having a fear of phones. Describing his symptoms, I found myself thinking: that’s just like me. So now I’ve got a name for a condition I’ve had all my adult life. I’m scared of phones; I really don’t like phoning. I will do almost anything rather than make a call. I get the classic anxiety symptoms before I dial out, and I know I’m hopeless at speaking on the phone. I can’t string my thoughts together. Plus I don’t listen properly to what’s being said. Several times I’ve come off the phone and been asked, “What did he/she say?” and I have to confess, “I haven’t got a clue.” The words don’t seem to register in my short-term memory. Of course I’ve got the usual Pavlovian reflex: when a phone rings I’ll answer it. After all, it might be for somebody else.

Of course, when I was working I had to use the phone a lot, and I did. I think I rationalised it by thinking I had no choice – I was acting under a corporate imperative. But given a choice, I won’t phone. Face-to-face is my favourite way of communicating, with email and letter for distant contacts.

I’ve got a mobile phone, but I only take it with me when I’m on journeys, and it’s never switched on, except for emergencies and reassurances. My mobile bill is usually around a quid a month. And I never tell people what my mobile number is. You never know, they might phone me!


Friday night’s library centenary dinner was a very happy occasion. It was lovely to catch up with so many old friends. And the responses to my poem were better than I could have hoped for. The organisers gave copies of the poem to the guests after the reading, and I lost count of the number of copies I was asked to sign. And it’ll be published in Information Scotland and on the SLAINTE website.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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6 Responses to Phonophobia

  1. BarbaraS says:

    I am not great on the phone; I forget things that have been said, unless I take notes. I often wish I could record conversations so I could listen again in the comfort of a non-panicky environment. I think we all behave weirdly under pressure, but the phone takes tops because you can’t see the other person on the end of the line, and you must imagine their reaction. Mind you, you could say that about t’internet:lack of gestures etc… but it is a slightly slower medium for the purposes of reaction.

  2. Jim Murdoch says:

    I have a mobile phone on which I have two numbers rattling around in its no doubt capacious memory, my wife and my daughter and they are the only people who know the number not that it would do them any good because I only actually put the thing on when I go out. It’s a tool for emergencies and I appreciate the technology. I took a couple of photographs with it once too, but simply to test it; I’ve forgotten how to now. Apparently it will also serve as an MP3 player – God alone knows how; I have one of those but it doesn’t excite me.As for the phone at home, apart from my wife’s relatives in America the only people who call are trying to sell us things. If she dies before me I may well have the thing ripped out. I have no fear of making a call – half of my working life has been spent with a phone pressed against the side of my head – but it has been years since I spent any length of time on a phone. Even my daughter e-mails me rather than phones. We’ve exchanged a few texts too. I like their functionality. But that’s about it.

  3. Crafty Green Poet says:

    I’m the same, I don’t like phoning, though there are certain people I phone regularly. Well, my parents really. I only have a mobile for work and so far have avoided using it at all. I really hate teleconferences and we have a lot of those in my new job, those can’t be avoided, unlike the mobile…

  4. Sorlil says:

    This feels a little like group therapy! What gives away my phone aversion is my nearly-two-year-old son who mimics everything I do and exclaims ‘oh no’ when the phone rings!

  5. Colin Will says:

    Oh Wow! And I thought I was alone.

  6. apprentice says:

    I’m glad the poem was well received – I look forward to seeing it on-line.I must admit to liking a natter to old friends if they call me, but the idea doesn’t really enter my head too often. I usually let the answer machine kick in to see who it is, to filter out the marketing pests. And I hate mobiles, I have an emergency one, but I don’t know its number. I hate being contactable any place any where. It’s liking writing postcqards on holiday, you go away to forget folk, not write them!

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