Claire Black: I don’t generally find famous folk sticking their oar into local or global issues helpful
WHAT do you like best about staying in a hotel? A fluffy white robe instead of the one with the tea stain and a bit of jam on the cuff? The fact that you will never, ever have to clean the bath? My favourite thing is the “do not disturb” sign.
Three simple words that sum up an increasingly impossible ambition. I can think of no other time when I get to say explicitly and categorically “not now thanks, I’ve got three episodes of The Good Wife to watch on catch-up”.
Take the above lines. While writing those, seven emails plopped into my inbox, a text message arrived to tell me I have overpaid by several thousands of pounds payment protection insurance that I never asked for and Twitter has been unspooling like random, digitised, ticker tape. There are so many messages on my desk phone, the light is too tired to even blink any more and the “update every minute” function on the website open on my desktop is showing me, literally minute by minute, who is saying what at a government inquiry the purpose of which I’ve sort of forgotten.
Is it any wonder then that gasps of wonder greeted the new iPhone feature unveiled at last week’s Apple Worldwide Developer Conference? This new function won’t talk to you, it won’t show you where you are on a map, it won’t sync you to Facebook. All it will do is nothing – it’s called Do Not Disturb. Your phone will still be able to receive incoming calls and texts and emails, but you won’t know about them. There will be no vibrating, illuminating or, perish the thought, ringing. You’ll pick them all up later, when you’re ready to be disturbed.
But here’s the catch: it’s clever enough that if you get several calls in a row from selected numbers it will let you know. And you can programme it to allow certain people to disturb you even if you’re telling everyone else not to.
Well that’s no use then, is it? Proper interruptions come from the people we know because they’re the ones we don’t feel comfortable ignoring, so if they can still get us, what’s the point?
I’m not fretting, I’ve got a solution. It’s not an app, you don’t have to buy a new model of phone to get it so it’s not exactly furthering the consumerist masterplan. It’s simple: just turn off your phone.
I DON’T generally find famous folk sticking their oar into local or global issues helpful. You only have to look at Bono to see what can go wrong.
And yet, I quite enjoyed Annie Lennox’s tuppence worth on the controversial plans for Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen. It might be because she used the phrase “dog’s dinner of crap concrete” – delightful. But it might also be that her description of the city centre (“Weeds… broken windows, dereliction and crappy shop front façades”) rang a bell that resonates far beyond the granite city.
IT’S precisely 34 days until I will be watching Madonna in concert for the very first time. The reason I’m looking forward to it despite Kabbalah, that dreadful rapping on American Life and, well, Guy Ritchie, is that if she should show me – and the other 60,000 people in Murrayfield – her nipple as she did in Istanbul the other night, then we’ll know that she meant to do it and isn’t pulling a Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl-style wardrobe malfunction. Madonna – the more the haters hate, the more the rest of us know she’s still got it.
• Last week Claire... happened upon the “white dinner” in a park in central Paris. It’s like a giant flashmob dinner party at which everyone wears white. It looked amazing – I think we should have one.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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