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By Jimmy Tarbuck


Your phone’s on the table and you hear the distinctive beep. Who is it? What do they want? Will it be a social invitation, a shite joke or the bearer of some bad news? Or is it just a link to some dodgy porn site? The anticipation rises as you pick up the phone and the mystery is revealed. For make no mistake, text messages have changed the way we live our lives, and have become a greater revelation than the mobile phone itself.


Often they are considered to be the domain of the young with their stupid shitty txt spk – whoever invented this literally wants a gud 4kin but the great text culture is prevalent across all ages. Well I say that but I can’t say I’ve ever texted my dad which isn’t surprising as he doesn’t own a mobile and I’m still slightly uneasy about the prospect of texting my mum, even when she’s just sent me one but aside from that, it’s a bloody useful way of getting the message across. I have of course been dumped and of course done the dumping by text and also sent a text to the wrong person and instantly felt a hot flush come over me, knowing there’s fuck all I can do about it. These are the standard things every textee (is that in the dictionary yet?) should have done.


Things I refuse to do are send out stupid fucking Happy New Year’s messages out to my entire address book knowing full well it will arrive at 5.10am on Jan 1st when the bulk of the recipients will be comatose. I rarely forward on jokes or chain texts because they are usually shite and not everyone appreciates them, and I am still a fan of actually picking up the phone and dialing a number and actually speaking to someone as very often a two minute conversation can save half an hour of texting to and fro but then some tight bastards still prefer that route and shoehorn their conversations into abbreviated words, trying desperately to squeeze their message into 150 characters, whereas I tend to go ‘fuck it, I’ll call them it’s quicker’.


Of course by far the biggest mingebags are the ones who refuse to even spend 10p or 12p or whatever it is and use internet accounts to send texts. I used to play football with one lad who was notorious for this and expect you to spend 12p to text him back to his mobile even though he was using his work’s internet access to send you one. ‘Can u play football Thurs txt me bk on this no 077764907=32475 etc sponsored by wakybaky.co.uk for your indoor growing needs’.


Personally even in texts I am a fan of the Queen’s English and only abbreviate if absolutely nesh. I don’t mind if others do it occasionally but anyone overusing text speak usually gets a curt ‘Can I have that in fucking English pal’ in reply. I realise that I’m in a minority today: I like to read a good book, or a great article, I always like to read a Sunday paper – and by that I mean a proper one not the NOTW. Unfortunately, the nature of the world these days is that everyone wants information, at speed and condensed – they cannot be bothered to actually read anything longer than a text message and therein lies the problem.


Nevertheless they are great for organising nights out or football matches and more worrying many people actually use them at work to provide figures or ask questions when someone’s ‘on the move’ with no access to that other bastardisation of modern communication, email. Of course, it only seems a few years ago when taking your mobile phone on a night out was a no-no as it would inevitably end up down a grid or in somebody’s pint but nowadays we’d all be lost without it (apparently – even though we all managed before). Of course, most people have now mastered the art when drinking of texting bollocks as well as talking bollocks. The only difference being that whereas you might have to rely on a third party report, usually preceded with the words ‘you were in a state last night’ to confirm what you said last night, with texting a quick scroll down your sent items and there it is – ‘I don’t remember sending that last night??’ But you thought it was a great idea at the time!!


Of course we are now in the picture and video phone era and I am now increasingly receiving photos in the early hours of the morning of acquaintances fast asleep in late night drinking dens and getting forwarded video footage of couples shagging in nightclub bogs taken by sneaky mates slipping their phones under from within the next cubicle. It’s not the done thing in office culture but all over the country in builder’s yards, work colleagues are bluetoothing porn to one another in much the same manner as VHS tapes with ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon’ felt tipped on the side used to be exchanged a few years ago. From that it can maybe be concluded that the world hasn’t actually changed that much, just that we have got smarter at exchanging information.


My five favourite text messages of all time:

1)      $#)(&+)(&%+#(&+$+@^&$+&@$ From: David Blunkett

2)      The porn video “Katie XXX’ bluetoothed to me in Frankie & Bennies post match last season. It wasn’t meant for me but go on then let’s accept anyway!

3)      ‘Spit at a dirty Turk for me, Jimmy’ A mate whilst I was pottering around the Stadium of Light before an England game

4)       ‘Looking forward to Friday darling, love you baby’ sent to me from a (Name withheld) mate who’s bird happened to be next to mine in his address book – well that’s what he said but I’ve kept my distance ever since!

5)      ‘How am I fixed for legover toneet darling’ sent by a fat bloke to presumably his wife/bird whilst sat in front of me at Birmingham away


I suppose I should conclude by considering where it will all go from here and reference Apple’s recently launched iPhone which has the ability to function as an iPod, web browser and phone all in one but in truth it’s probably just the beginning. Pretty soon text messaging will be ‘so noughties’ and phones will continue to get smaller until they are actually implanted into your earlobes and will become so sophisticated that they will control your bank account, drive your car for you, do your job for you, serve as a passport/ID card/driving licence all in one and ensure that if you break any law whatsoever a sharp piercing noise will prevent you from progressing with your attempted felony. You may control your phone at the moment, but someday soon your phone will end up controlling you.




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