I’m filming at the moment, on location with Sue Perkins, pretending to be Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall out of The Good Life, making a show about self sufficiency in the suburbs in the good old days, the 1970s, when I was a little kid, and phones were big and made of Bakelite and you had to dial the numbers on a dial, all the way round and back again, and it took about a minute to do, and then it was engaged and there was no “redial” so you had to do it all again. And tellies were huge and took an age to warm up, and newspapers were as big as beds and full of stuff from weeks ago, and naked girls were, well, I’ve no idea where they were.
And everyone on the set were all as thrilled as hell that I had an iPhone 4 coming by courier – it was maybe a week after they first launched – because they all had iPhones already – they’re constantly fiddling with them, all of them, between takes, during takes, when I’m trying to work, skritch, skritch, skritch at the screen: “Ooh, look at me, I can turn this photo of my girlfriend upside down and then swoosh it so her face is horribly disfigured and now I can put it in your pocket when you’re not looking and make people think you farted” – and they were agog with the promise of what this new one would be able to do.
Me, personally, I couldn’t have given less of a crap. I make calls on an old Nokia. I don’t really watch telly. I don’t need apps. I have a moody old PC but it just about gets porn if you’re patient, and holds the picture long enough to get the job done, if you’re quick about it.
However well the iPhone 4 does what it does, I don’t need it doing. And I wouldn’t know if it was doing it better than the iPhone 3, any more than a caveman transported to the 21st century would understand why we think a Ferrari is more interesting than a milk float. The iPhone 4 can kiss my arse.
It came. The crew all gathered round. Dribbling, envious nerds. I hunched over the jiffy bag, hiding it from view, like Gollum. Just to piss them off, I didn’t open it till I got home.
Inside the bag was a strange, futuristic object: small, sleek, hard, modern, ethereally smooth to the finger, a clear, colourful picture on the front, shimmering writing, a thing so beautiful I felt the beginnings of a stiffy.
It turned out that was just the box. Boy, do I have some catching up to do.
The thing itself beggared all understanding. That men with their clumsy thumbs and podgy cowpats of fatty tissue we call a “brain” could make such a thing: black and rectilinear but curved and silvery, weightless but hefty, mineral-hard yet gentle as a girl. Playing with it in my hands I felt like one of those apes at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, howling first with fear and rage at the inexplicable black monolith, but soon obsessed by its beauty, determining to learn its power and use it to destroy my enemies and rule the world.
I am gone. I am sold. I am become iMan. But first, I must sleep. Tomorrow I will push further into the possibilities of this brave new technological world. I may even turn it on.
First published in T3 (September 2010 issue)