Anton Rippon: I'm getting on a bit now – but there's an app for that
THERE was a time when us old codgers would sit in the pub on Friday lunchtimes complaining about youngsters fiddling with their mobile phones.
Now look at us. Talk about silver surfers. Everyone is checking texts and e-mails. There is much talk about the best deal, so many free "gigs", and someone has even produced a "tablet".
Hitherto, talk of a tablet would have prompted a competition to see who was on the most medication.
Now, it promotes boasting about the latest "apps". We can now identify aircraft flying overhead, order direct from the shopping channel – as if – and take photographs of each other wearing silly expressions.
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Apparently, there are 300,000 apps, most of them completely useless so far as I can see, although there is an app that tells us exactly where we are. Something that, as old age takes us ever tighter in its grip, might come in useful when we are ready to leave and can't remember the way home from the White Swan.
But I think I'm right not to trust such gadgets. Take what happened a couple of years ago. Our destination was a Six Nations match at Twickenham.
All seemed well as we sped south. When we eventually pulled off the motorway, I took a peep at the map supplied by the ticket agency. A map that had earlier been dismissed by our driver with a wave of the hand and: "I know where we're going, thanks."
So even when we began to deviate from the route we'd been given, I wasn't too concerned. But when we turned off a B-road and bumped down a tiny track, I began to worry. And when we pulled up in front of a small gate leading into a field, I was convinced that we should have used the map after all.
"Here we are," the driver said triumphantly. "I told you I wouldn't get lost."
"Fine," I said, "but look around. Drink in the scene. True, there are two sets of rugby posts, set at what looks like the regulation distance apart.
"And there's even a modest clubhouse. But do you honestly think that here, this very afternoon, 82,000 spectators are going to be accommodated?"
The previous evening, he'd Googled "Twickenham Rugby Football Club". Which is actually a small club in a place called Hampton. Then he'd entered its postcode into his sat nav. And then he'd let the machine take over.
The Twickenham we wanted was four and a half miles away. This place may have boasted "the 11th oldest rugby union club in the world". And it may have advertised itself as "the nearest helicopter landing field to Twickenham stadium".
But had we stayed there, then instead of witnessing the rugby cream of England and Wales, we'd have been watching Twickenham RFC 3rd XV take on Ealing Exiles. I rest my case.
Back in the White Swan, my drinking has been interrupted a number of times by electronic communication from Sophie at National Express.
I've never dealt with National Express, I've never met Sophie and I'd like to know how she came to be in possession of my e-mail address. Maybe she, too, has an app?