As she stood there in Carphone Warehouse flipping up covers and doing rapid two-hand texting on a Qwerty keyboard, I said, "Do people have their phones on all the time at school?"
"So phones go off in lessons sometimes?"
"What do the teachers do?"
"They sigh. Or look irritated."
"What about when you were younger?"
"They'd confiscate it. Until the end of the lesson. Or the end of school."
I thought back to my own teenage years. I think in my day you got detention if you breathed too loudly.
I said, "Is there anyone at secondary school who doesn't have a phone?"
"I can't think of anyone."
"Even the younger ones?"
She nodded again.
We seem to have forgotten all our fears about phones scrambling brain cells or causing cancer.
I said, "Things move so fast."
She studied a pink phone that looked more like a 1950s mirrored compact.
She said, "I know. When I was little, you just used a phone to make a call. Now you can text and play music and watch films and look stuff up..."
I thought about growing up with just one solitary phone in the hall. You sat there in the late afternoon gloom playing with the curly wire, lowering your voice to a whisper so the rest of the family couldn't hear. You played music on the radio. You watched films at the cinema. You looked stuff up in the library.
"Exactly," I said.
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