Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Where R U ?


"I've got 1600 friends on Facebook," the boy casually said over dinner the other night.

"Do manage to see them much?' was my rhetorical question.

"No. I don't really want to be on Facebook, but these days you sort of have to. Jobs are advertised on it to a targeted market, invitations (or more accurately, 'alerts') to parties, etc."

I know what he means. I am not involved in illegal lock-ins in pubs these days, but a girl who should have known better posted one of these 'invitations' to everyone in the world the other week, when she blurted out about one going on that very minute, around 1.00 am. Luckily it was taken down before the local constabulary had spotted it.

In the old days - by which I mean about 5 or 6 years ago - if you wanted to get on in the art world, you had to attend about four boring parties a week during the season. If you wanted to get on in the business world, then you had to play golf at least once a week, be a member of some secret society, be a member of a particular London club - or all of the above at the same time.

I've never been one for parties, even when I was young, so the remote social interaction of Facebook ought to suit me very well, but it doesn't.

The literary world is more dominated by Twitter than Facebook, and mercifully limited to a number of characters to deter authors from publishing whole novels on it, but once you have made it in your particular field of expertise, then good old-fashioned flesh-pressing is still mandatory to keep up sales. I know Auerbach detests attending his own private views, but I guess his gallery insists on it as part of the deal.

Having graduated from Myspace to Facebook, it is even more difficult to make arrangements with G.E. than it was when she was 14.

I know very many people of my sort of age who swore they would never, ever, own a mobile phone. Now they could not do without it, and panic if they reach for it in their pockets to find it is not there.

When I was about 13, I made an arrangement to meet a girl in the park in Brighton opposite the Regent's Pavilion (above!), and I arrived in good time as the Summer sun was beginning to set. I didn't know what I was going to do with her once she turned up, but I had some hazy, half thought-out ambitions involving a combination of fumbling around with her undergarments and everlasting love.

All the cafes in town were playing The Beach Boys at that time, and one of their more melancholic tunes was running through my head as I watched the sun go down behind the ornamental trees and shrubbery of the park as I waited - and waited - for her to turn up. Now, all these years later,  I cannot hear that tune without being thrown back into tortured, adolescent despair.

Some years later, I attended an all-night, classical Indian music concert at the huge house of a millionaire friend here in Bath, and the sitar player explained the meaning of the night-time Raga before he and his group began actually playing it.

"A boy arranges to meet a girl one evening, by a bridge leading over a beautiful stream," he began in a wonderful, lyrical accent, "so the music begins full of hope and anticipation as he waits for her to arrive. Then - slowly slowly - he begins to understand that she will not come, and his hopes turn into sadness as the sun sets."

Then - just as he promised - the tragic scene was enacted out in music and in real time over the next hour, and accompanied by a phantom perfume which can only be described as essence of femininity. I don't know if anyone else got drift of the scent, it seemed rude to break the spell by asking.

When this concert was held, there was no danger of anyone's phone going off horribly during the recitation, because they didn't exist. Just as well, because the Nokia tune would have been so inappropriate in the circumstances.

18 comments:

  1. I have posted before that I came off Facebook when a collegue commented on their " wall" about how they had just passed a huge bowel motion.
    ..
    Anyhow....new technology continues to amaze me.
    I just bought a mobile phone for 8 £
    8 bleeding pounds!
    Can you believe it?
    Amazing

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    1. You THOUGHT you came off Facebook. It is the Hotel California.

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  2. Nostalgia, nostalgia Tom - and a hint of perfumed sadness running through it. I could tell similar stories - I suppose we all could - it is part of growing up. Yet somehow, with all the modern conveniences such a facebook, mobiles etc. it seems harder than ever to meet someone who might become a life partner. In fact it no longer seems fashionable to view anyone as a life partner - feel free to change if and when necessary seems to be the order of the day.

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    1. You've been with the Farmer 21 years haven't you? Can't be that difficult to find a life partner. I wish you all the best, Weave.

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  3. All (or most, anyway) of my facebook friends are either family members, or very close friends. I think they amount to about 25 in all.

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    1. That's more family and close friends than I've got. Absence must make the heart grow fonder.

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  4. In a certain part of a certain town in Wales in the 1950's there was for certain only one telephone kiosk. From 7:15pm to 7:30pm on Friday evenings the phone was reserved for the use of Mrs. Williams except in the case of an emergency. Everybody knew the custom and respected it. Other residents had their regular 15 minutes of telephone time too of course.

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    1. Sounds like 'Local Hero', but without the rabbit.

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    2. Who was Mrs Williams? The local tele-sales gal?

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    3. "My name is Mrs Williams. I am calling you about a rabbit..."

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  5. I am thinking of getting a smart phone. it makes me cringe but I can see the use of it. but also the intrusion.

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    1. I would get an iPad if I didn't have a roof over my head - I mean lived on a boat or some such thing.

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  6. Facebook is buttock-clenchingly awful. I use it to see what old friends (about ten of them) are doing in distant lands, but the idea of actually posting something on it? No. I often see people write that they're sitting down with a glass of wine. What a load of shit. Lovely lyrical post here though Tom.

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    1. The trouble with Facebook is that whilst you sit down for a spot of voyeurism by looking up old friends, Face book are looking up on you and selling your personal details to others for all sorts of purposes.

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    2. Nothing interesting enough about me for them to get their teeth into.

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    3. I know that's not true. Even I'm interested in your bank account.

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