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.