Jonathan: With all the heavy lifting and carrying – boxes, more boxes and yet even more cardboard boxes, and then of course there was all the furniture, it seemed likely my watch would get snagged against a doorframe, so I took it off and put it safely aside. That was 5th December 2002 – the day we moved in to An Gàrradh Mòr. And I never put that watch on again – until today, more than thirteen years later. Like so many others, back then, I was finding that a mobile phone was not just for emergencies or for work or when away from home, but for any time, any day. And with a mobile phone always in the hand or at least in the pocket, what need was there for a watch? But what goes around comes around, and now wrists are once again adorned with watches – of one sort or another. For some it’s a question of fashion, for others a justification to get out grandad’s gold watch and do more than just look at it and see if it still works, and for others it’s a question of simple practicality. It’s true that as phones have got smarter they’ve also got bigger, more expensive and more susceptible to theft or damage … and so less attractive as timepieces. But though that may be true for many, my reasons for reverting to watch-wearing is much simpler: I no longer need – or want – a mobile phone. Not that I’m a technophobe or something – certainly not! Though long a first-adopter in matters technological, I’ve never been altogether comfortable with the intrusiveness of a mobile phone, and if it wasn’t for the fact that, as a self-employed professional in construction a mobile phone was absolutely essential (and even by 2003 that was mainly for connecting my laptop to the internet wherever I happened to be), I’d gladly have gone without. So, now, retired from construction work, and with mobile reception here in Uist being patchy, intermittent and slow, when my latest smartphone started boot-looping (a fatal disorder resulting from a faulty bios update), I simply let the contract expire and … now I am at last MPAD-free. [Mobile Phone Anxiety Disorder. Okay – I made that up!]
Denise: I’ve been sorting through old family documents, photos and momentos that have come to me through my Mum, Betty. Through these I can reach back more than a hundred years. Though my own kin, they and their lives are very detached from my own, and what connects us is more a matter for the head than the heart. But then I come across something that telescopes the years into something more immediate, and hits me in the heart. I was handling some rather dry papers concerning the purchase by my paternal grandparents, Olive and Archie Gregory, when something fell to the floor – clearly of different ilk entirely. Lying on the floor, it was clearly one of the end papers from a pocket diary, with the conventional map of London Underground. That being so familiar today, it’s apparent modernity was to say the least incongruous (though a closer examination reveals major differences with the modern underground network). However it was when I turned the leaf over that it really hit me. Read for yourself.
Olive was throughout her life an avid scribbler, writing notes about her daily life, things she was interested in, places she’d been. If it had all been in kept in a consistent format, it would have been referred to as a Journal. But as diverse fragments, often just scraps of paper, very little has survived, but this one from 75 years ago, in the midst of the Sheffield Blitz, has survived almost by accident.
Jonathan: We didn’t do singles at my school. They were for the girls next door at Westwood School. At Stoneham – certainly in my peer group, it was albums that were brought to school to show off or discuss. Not that I had anything to contribute: others had pocket money, I just had fluff. It wasn’t until I was in the new ‘mixed’ sixth form (thats boys and girls, not race – built between the two schools) with a common room equipped with a hi-fi system (yes, really!) that began to hear and appreciate a variety of contemporary music. Serious music. It was by then 1973 and Ziggy Stardust was already nearly two years old. Other albums on the turntable during breaks and lunch time included: Led Zeppelin I, Pink Floyd – not least Dark Side of the Moon, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Roxy Music, Wishbone Ash, Jimmy Hendrix, Allman Brothers Band, Rolling Stones, The Who. Heavy, man! Okay, sometimes we’d have to let the girls spin a few discs – Carpenters, the sound track to Love Story … But standing out from all of these for raw energy, musicality, sheer talent, mind-blowing breadth of vision was the music of David Bowie. And as a visual cue to that time – the cover of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust (and the Rise and Fall of the Spiders from Mars), with the K.West lamp. My office Hi-Fi system has been out of action for a bit, but today on the day of David Bowie’s death I received the new tweeters for my big Wharfedale speakers. I fitted them, ran a few tests. Put the re-mastered Ziggy Stardust in the CD tray, and then, in obedience to the instruction on the back of the original vinyl album’s cover “To be played at maximum volume”. Well, not quite, as I can’t afford another pair of new tweeters, and as to the bass – well we’ve only just finished renovating the house. ;~)