Gizmo, the Smarty-Pants Phone.

English: "Stripe" Gremlin figure, le...

Never get water on Gizmo the smart phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three weeks before my birthday, Norbert the Nokia kindly decided that I no longer needed the bottom row of keys, lined up like baby teeth at the bottom of my handset. From that moment onwards, I was condemned to only phoning the numbers that were already stashed away in Norbert’s memory, and I crossed my fingers that he would not suffer from amnesia as well as paralysed digits.

But that’s not all. I also had to get my head around a texting world that was devoid of the letters W, X, C, V,  B, M, and N. Texting became as easy as simultaneously whistling and cleaning your false teeth – it was like playing Scrabble with half the letters missing from the box. By the time I had found a synonym that did not need any of the missing letters, the person I was supposed to pick up at the bus stop had given up and walked home.

The major disadvantage of being deprived of these letters was that I was suddenly incapable of refusing anything to my children at distance, as I had no way to type the word “no” in a text message, whatever language I used. The absence of an immediate refusal was therefore interpreted as a tacit consent.

I can hear you all from here. “Why didn’t you just phone them?” I hear you ask. Simple. Using a phone to talk with parents went out with the arc (even if this was the only viable argument they had for buying the thing). When we parents call our offspring, we are generally greeted by the answering machine – taking a call from your mother on the school bus is as high on the humiliation scale as showing a pimple on your backside to your family GP.

Description unavailable

Gertrude and Doris enjoyed calling their children on their mobiles and muttering “I am your Mother” through their gas masks. (Photo credit: Foxtongue)

A teenager’s mobile phone could be defined as an alarm clock that allows its owner to play games, communicate with friends (by text message only), listen to music and avoid being spoken to by the kid in your class who wants to go out with you when waiting alone at the bus stop. It is also an ideal means to reverse those parent – offspring roles and keep constant track of your genitors – a bit like Argos transmitters on migratory birds. When I leave the house at the weekend, I have approximately ten minutes of freedom before the tracking squad kicks in with regular calls demanding where I am and what time I will be back. This makes me feel like a fifteen-year-old girl who’s been caught sneaking out the back door in her sister’s high heels and sequined boob tube when I’m just on a mission to fill the fridge for the second time in three days.

Anyway, I digress. When PF, Bigfoot, Little My and Rugby Boy took me off to choose my new phone for my birthday, I was a happy cookie. My offspring pointed excitedly at ultra thin phones – the technological equivalent of Paris Hilton after a run-in with a steam roller. The things just oozed sexiness, and when I saw the price label I realised why – they’d had enough microchip surgery to keep them looking young until the next model elbowed them off the telecommunications catwalk into early retirement six months later.

A salesman cruised around the corner and mooched over to us. Flashing a pearly white smile, he smoothly ran off the characteristics of the über-sexy model in his hand. When he stopped for breath, I asked, “So, does it phone?” He drew himself up to his full height – somewhere around my belly button. “Yes, madame. You can also takes pictures and videos, surf the web, get the weather all over the world, the news…” When he had finished, I asked: “Does it do the washing-up and bring me breakfast in bed too?”

He blinked. I explained that although it may appear strange, I don’t have an internet package for my phone – I actually enjoy the freedom of not being followed by social media and emails when I’m out. I just needed a phone that phones. I pointed behind him to a bright red candy-bar that could survive being dropped in the Atlantic, thrown off a cliff and run over by a tank. This little beauty had probably been designed by Playschool, and would survive well after the scorpions had kicked the bucket in the Apocalypse. I quickly found myself imagining the scene – I would tuck it under my lycra knicker elastic and be the new Lara Croft, albeit with less generous boobs and extra padding on my bottom half, bounding around the scorched remains of the earth. Yeah. The only girl with a phone that would work to call the President when the other survivor, Bruce Willis, got the network up and running…

The iStone: at the cutting edge of technology.

The iStone: at the cutting edge of technology.

Little My shook her head and dragged me out of my dream to show me another phone. Her siblings agreed: this was the real McCoy. And ever since, I have been the adoptive mother of Gizmo. Gizmo is a smart phone who is too big to fit in my jeans pocket but small enough to disappear in my handbag. He’s not just a smart phone, he’s a smarty-pants phone. His insatiable need for attention has driven me to lobotomise him by depriving him of his lifeline to the internet router after more disturbances than I care to mention. A night with a teething child is probably more restful than a night with a phone that pops its cheek at you through the dark every time someone on the other side of the world posts a picture of their lunch on Facebook.

Gizmo is obviously a man – he is very touchy-feely, and constantly requests stroking and TLC. Like a Gremlin, Gizmo must be kept away from water at all costs. Whereas I could just wipe my hands on my jeans and press the button to take a call with Norbert when I was peeling the spuds, Gizmo has to wait until I’ve washed and dried my hands before I can tend to his needs. When he rings in my pocket and it’s raining, I find myself reassuring him that I will release him from the dark just as soon as I find a dry place to stand. The idea of him getting covered in warts, and evil baby smart phones popping up all over the place scares the hell out of me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go… Gizmo’s ringing.

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51 thoughts on “Gizmo, the Smarty-Pants Phone.

      • What a good boy he is! Lighthouse, Hmmmmm. The list comprises of seven of us so far – those who experienced the same problems and wrote to them and heard nothing back. Nothing new to report on that front unfortunately so back to the drawing board…

      • Thanks for your support… I gave up writing to them after two days. I know of one person who is still persevering. It’s not as though we were asking them to do something for free… Anyway!

  1. Ha ha ha, I know how you feel. I have just changed my phone from a nokia that had the amazing capability of storing 20 numbers to something that Captain Spock uses. I have managed to phone Mrs Sensible whilst playing trying to play a game on it. Lord knows how!! I denied it was me until she showed me proof.

    • Yoh, PN! I do commiserate on the Dr Spock issue – although you’re light miles ahead of me because you actually play on your phone. I’ve just worked out how to phone and send text messages on mine, and Gizmo keeps serving up error messages and asking me for my password for gmail every five minutes. Nosy ratbag. He’ll be asking for my bra size next.

      • My wonderful piece of technology is Chinese it is called something like Whooaawayyy. Nokia was much easier to say and if I dropped my old phone it didn’t seem to matter, this one looks like it is made of glass with a little bit of plastic.

  2. Maybe your love for Gizmo will be a slow burn affair??

    I remember getting my first Smartphone, Kenneth text me one night and the conversation went like this:

    K: You in the bath yet?
    Me: No I can’t, Greg is hogging the shower!!
    K: Greg?? Who the hell is Greg??
    Me: I mean Greg
    Me: Damn it!!! Greg
    Me: For the love of God!! G.E.E.G
    Me: Oh this new phone’s predictive text is doing my head in. Ken, are you there??

    Saying all that though, I would be completely lost without it now! It has everything on it-even a reminder to water the plants!! 😉

    May your new relationship grow, bloom and prosper 😀 xx

    • Oh, it’s called predictive text, is it? I’m still battling with the damned thing, particularly because I text in two different languages the rare times I do text. I have a funny feeling that I will never fall in love with the phone. Ever. My computer is a different kettle of fish, though.

      • Haha my relationship is the opposite! I refer to the laptop as “The Bi*ch”.

        I should imagine texting in two different languages is going to confuse Gizmo no end…he’ll always be kept on the hop xx

  3. Hi Joanna
    When my 1998 Nokia “brick” eventually popped its clogs, It was replaced by a cheap refurb of the same, which enabled this gnarled old septuagenarian to carry on doing what he wanted – just making and receiving calls and texts. Alas, the refurb too has now gone to its Maker. Fear not however – there are still perfectly acceptable basic mobiles available for geriatrics like your progenitor. I now boast ownership of a more modern Nokia “brick” – secondhand but perfectly serviceable. I owe its previous owner a bottle of wine as its purchase price. It’s grey and blue instead of my trusty old black, and it’s 2002 vintage, so I have had to persuade your baby sister (sigh, sigh) to give me lessons in how to use it, but I am getting there…………and it fits easily in my trouser pocket!

    • I see where I get it from 🙂 You call your phone a brick, and your grandchildren have a term for it too: they call it a “phone box” ! PF, like you, has both feet planted in the world of a simple candy-bar phone that fits in his pocket, and he is resolutely determined not to faff about with modernity.
      I’m glad LLS managed to bridge the gap between prehistoric telecommunication and its almost modern-day cousin! Love xxx

  4. Guess what? my phone is up to date: it says that today is 20th December 2013. It looks like being a lovely quiet Christmas. And Blythe will be here with her mum. Love ND HUGS, me.

  5. No 2 son used to be Project Manager at Nokia with responsibility for designing the ‘user interface’ . He moved out years ago to get his own place but left behind a wardrobe packed with Nokia prototypes that never made the production line (why he won’t let me throw them out, I don’t know ?)
    When i decided to dump my trusty Mitsibushi trium half-brick sized phone, I naturally turned to him for an all-singing, all-dancing modern, state of the art Nokia phone.
    He told me to piss off – said smart phones were too clever for me and fobbed me off with a little slim black Nokia phone that would do all I needed it to do
    About a year and a half ago I decided to ignore what he had said and bought myself a cheap chinese smart phone for £50
    I was really excited with my new purchase until i tried to ext with it, when I found my fat fingers were constantly hitting the wrong letter on the virtual keyboard – resulting in gibberish that was made worse by the bloody predictive text messing up my words. To compound the problem, when texting fellow scots I tend to lapse into using scottish words and expressions and scottish spellings of english words which the phone would not accept and kept changing. A pigeon could have delivered a hand-written text quicker than it took me to compose a text with my new phone – what with the constant back-tracking to change the phone’s corrections of what I had written. Ggrrrr !
    I don’t know about it being a smart phone. It’s more like a smart aleck phone, sneering with a condescending air at my attempts to master it. It’s outwitted me on more than one occasion but I am determined not to be outsmarted by a bloody phone. One day I’ll conquer it !

    • Mine is Chinese too – maybe they are cousins plotting an attack on the World from either side of the Channel. I hate that intuitive text thing – even my computer has started doing it to me, sneakily deciding for me if I miss a letter out on a word. Battle on, Duncan – we will triumph over technology!

  6. 🙂 Yet another hilarious post which could have been written just for me!! I’m the only one in our family with a small indestructible Samsung which just….phones! I can’t even text as it all comes out mixed up…type an N and you get an E , a D is an X etc etc?? No idea why and I haven’t even looked to see if I can fix it. I do love my computer though …not the small tablet or portable, no, the great big old fashioned thing with the huge screen!!! One day I’ll be dragged into the 21st century but for now, I’m happy!!!

    PS – Amar managed to kill his Smart phone in the pool 3 weeks after he bought it and Emma has just murdered hers by dropping it down the loo…who’s the smug one now 😉

    • I thought of you the other day – you saved me from letting my face crumple up like a 2CV in front of six eleven year-olds. Thanks 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post – I was inches from posting a rant about Sochi, and I decided against it and wrote this one instead. Your family all seem to have problems hanging on to things. May I suggest a bum bag? Very appropriate in Emma’s case 😀

  7. I love this… my parents have recently caught on to the smartphone revolution. My dad has his turned off most of the time though and then if it ever, by some miracle, rings, just stares at it blankly. Personally, I’m tempted to go back the other way. I quite like the idea of not being constantly reachable by email, Facebook, Twitter and whatever else…

    • I’m glad you liked it 🙂 I kissed goodbye to roaming with Internet over a year ago, and was amazed to see just how many people have their faces glued to the phone “talking” on social media when they have a real person sitting beside them… doing exactly the same thing. I feel like an alien at times.
      I do use Facebook, but only with people I really know who really are friends. It’s mainly a way to keep friends and family who are spread around the globe informed about what we are up to, but I’m increasingly irritated by the invasive questions FB keeps asking – the last one was to access my email addresses. Of course, Mr Zuckerberg. Would you like my underwear size too? I have told him that I was born in 1903 and graduated in 1905 – he doesn’t seem to find it unusual. As for Twitter and the rest of the gang.. I haven’t even bothered looking.

  8. Hilarious, MM. Mobile phones really are the bane of modern life, I feel, however useful they are. I hate my phone. It’s a Samsung Blackberry wannabe with a keyboard that is too small and fiddly. I turned off predictive text so am not driven into paroxysms of rage when writing a message. It could NEVER predict what I wanted to say anyway.

    What gets me is that you cannot try the phones out before laying out vast wads of cash. They have us by the short and curlies.

    • Maybe the phone companies should get their heads around female predictive text and male predictive text. That could make for some very interesting research 🙂 Norbert was a wannabe Blackberry, too – maybe it was his inferiority complex that killed him in the end?
      Gizmo is wailing on the table – he’s in the final throes, and I’ve lost his charger. That solves the disruption problems for the immediate future… 😉

  9. Great post! About a year ago I deliberately downgraded from a smartphone to a Nokia. When I pull it out to answer or make a call, I get the STRANGEST looks. It makes me smile 🙂
    Half the time I don’t know where the damn thing is until it starts beeping (usually around 3 am) to inform me that it is dying a slow and painful death in some obscure corner.

    • Thanks, Joanne! It’s true that people find old phones strange now – I am reassured that nobody will attack PF to steal his ancient black Samsung.
      The worst thing about phones dying at night is that they do the same as cats – they hide to die, so I end up stumbling around the room looking for it as PF swears because it’s keeping him awake.

      • … and why does it seem – in the quiet and darkness of night – that their dying cries seem to come from everywhere they aren’t?
        Hope you bond happily with your new toy! 🙂

  10. My work phone never leaves my side when at work but my private phone is so rarely in the same room, house or country that I can’t even remember what make it is. A smart phone would be wasted on me.

    • I am impressed! Here we have a woman who has cut the umbilical cord with technology and seems to be happy with her lot. It may be worth a try – but will my children accept their mother suddenly ignoring the phone? Hmmm.

  11. You must be the only person alive who could get so much humour out of changing her phone! We’re still in the world of dumb phones until we decide a country of residence though our hand may be forced. They’ve put up a new cell phone tower next to us and buggered up our reception. Turns out we’re on 2G. 2G! Did you know that still existed? We didn’t. Good luck with Gizmo. I’ll probably be too old to figure it all out by the time we upgrade.

      • I’ve always wanted a Tardis. Let me know if that works. That would be fantastic. Now going onto cellphone site to see how much they want to stitch us up for new phones. We think it’s a corporate con.

      • Of course it is! I bought into deals where you got a phone and a two-year contract for Orange, then discovered that you can buy a phone that is already “unlocked” and adapts to any network.I did that, and got a deal with “Free”, who I can leave at will if I’m ever stupid enough to do so at 2 euros per month for two hours of phoning and unlimited texting….

      • You get much better deals in Europe than we get here. We won’t switch to contract phones with our uncertain future. For now there is one corner of our balcony where the signal is reasonable. I had a shouting conversation with a pharmacist about my prescriptions which all the neighbours could hear. Perfect.

  12. We finally bought a mobile ‘phone – known here as the cellular which sounds to me rather more like antique male underwear – and the poxy thing is the bane of my life.
    We only use it to call up a lift from the bus stop or to give to the workmen when out of calling distance at which point their wives will inevitably ring us on the landline…but it has a life of its own.
    I will have it on charge in the kitchen and in the dark hours of the morning it will spring to life croaking like a frog in order to announce that if I top it up now I will get some miniscule amount of free use in addition.
    It apparently texts – which I can’t do anyway – plays music and does all sorts of totally useless things.

    I am not at all tempted by a smartphone…..despite the best efforts of the electricity board’s salewoman to entice me with offers of 4G availability.

    • The fact that people call on the land line rather than the mobile is one of those “sod’s law” things. I do like the way they have lives of their own and yell in the middle of the night – I used to leap to my feet thinking that it was an emergency, with a pal suffering and screaming for help, but it’s generally just an SMS telling me how much I don’t have on my bank account.
      Unless 4G means I can use my phone as a tardis, they can forget me too.

  13. Hilarious, MM. 🙂 This made me glad our children were teenagers before the days of mobile phones. One thing at least about which DH and I didn’t need to feel antiquated. 🙂 Now we irritate them by having mobiles (NOT smartphones) which are never switched on unless we need to use them. Mine is even a clamshell – how uncool is that? 🙂

    • Oh, the dream… kids without pet phones. If they look after their children as well as they look after their phones,I’ll be thrilled. I had a clamshell phone too, but it died after too many attempts at bungey-jumping out of my hand without the elastic…

  14. When I changed phones (like you, from a Nokia) to an all-singing, all-dancing, but-sadly-not-able-to-cook-dinner one, I found it needed a lot of attention too, just like Gizmo. Now I have got a bit more used to it, I still find it frustrating that I have to look at it to text (I could do it without looking on the old Nokia because I had learned how many times I needed to press a key to get the required letter), but if I am trying to text, or look at the screen, outside on a sunny day then forget it – can’t see anything. Perhaps that explains why teenagers spend so long indoors – it’s the only way they can see their phone screens! 🙂

    • So yours can’t cook either? They must have had the same home economics teacher 😉 I hate texturing, it’s faster to phone than to argue with the automatic text geek who has fits when I change languages.
      I have the problem you speak about with my computer – I love working in the garden, but I can’t see a damned thing because the light reflects off the screen.

      • I agree, sometimes it is easier just to pick up the phone than to compose, and re-compose, a text particularly when predictive text thinks it knows what I am going to say and I have to go back and change it.
        You would think, wouldn’t you, that when we can develop technology that is so wonderful that it can keep people alive, ,or send probes into the far reaches of space, that someone would have developed a screen that we can see on a sunny day!

  15. I love my smart phone!! But I make sure I have it in ‘night mode’ from 9am to 8am, then it doesn’t light up or ping during the night. It is handy to have phone/camera/emails/books etc all on one handy device 😉

      • Only when I’m stuck somewhere and desperate for reading material. I must admit, I’m slowly being converted to e-reading… The other day I actually put my finger on a word I didn’t know in a real book to get the definition!!!

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