Back in the early 2000s when the mobile phone revolution was at its peak, a British comedian called Dom Joly gained fame by standing in public places – usually quiet ones, like train carriages – and shouting into an enormous fake phone.
“HELLO?! I’M ON THE TRAIN!” he’d bellow into the huge mobile, to the bemusement and annoyance of fellow passengers, before proceeding to explain exactly where he is and what he’s doing. The sketch usually ended with “YEAH, IT’S RUBBISH! CIAO!!”
For the first few episodes at least, the gag was superb – mocking the new breed of irritating mobile phone user that has no consideration for other people, or how to act in public.
And 10 years on from Joly’s sketch, it seems that the mobile phone war is heating up again. This week, a flight attendants’ union in the US issued a statement pleading with authorities not to permit passengers to make voice calls while flying.
“Passengers making phone calls could extend beyond a mere nuisance, creating negative effects on aviation safety and security that are great and far too risky,” the AFA said, adding that they oppose “any situation that is loud, divisive, and possibly disruptive”.
Loud and possibly disruptive. So what else does that include? Talking to other passengers? Snoring? Laughing? I understand that cabin crew want their flight to go as smoothly and peacefully as possible, but the statement makes it sound like they’re policing an illegal rave. They should talk to their counterparts at Ryanair or easyJet who have been on duty while a stag party is flying to Spain for the weekend – now that’s loud and disruptive.
Anyway, I can’t see passengers making too many in-flight phone calls, even if they were allowed to. As a method of communication, talking has become a bit old fashioned, don’t you think? Nowadays people seem to prefer email, Facebook, texting or instant messaging.
I do remember one incident however, when I would’ve happily imposed a global ban on all mobile phone use. On a train in the UK, a girl sitting in the row opposite me spent what seemed like the entire journey testing out her full selection of Nokia ring tones, bleep by bleep. Hanging’s too good for some people.
But Dom Joly no doubt, would’ve been proud of her. And unless the flight attendants successfully achieve their desired mobile phone ban, it’s surely only a matter of time before we hear; “HELLO?! YEAH, I’M ON THE PLANE!! SOMEWHERE OVER GERMANY!! NO, IT’S RUBBISH!! CIAO!!!”
But would that really be such a bad thing?