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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Friday, February 23, 2007

The joy of text

Being a treatise composed by the Editor on the benefits of what is, to Lady Bracknell at least, an incomprehensible aspect of mobile telephones.

Having just upgraded my mobile phone tariff from a package incorporating 500 text messages a month to 1000 (in order to accommodate my daily text marathons with a certain P Larkin Esq, you understand), I've decided it's past time I came clean about my texting addiction.

Not everyone from my generation has taken to texting. I know various people of about my age (some of whom have dyslexia, and whose antipathy can therefore be excused) who simply can't imagine why anyone would want to do it. "Isn't it easier to just talk to someone?", they say.

Well, actually, no. It's not.

Now, I'd be the first to admit that I was a late convert to mobile phones and that I still think they're a bloody menace. Although the "bloody menace" aspect of them lies with the people who use them, rather than with the phones themselves. People who compose text messages while walking down busy streets should, in my humble opinion, be strung up. It's hard enough for me to negotiate crowded areas even if everyone else is watching where they're going: it's damn near impossible when they're not. And, no, your fellow passengers do not need to be subjected to you yelling , "I'm on the train!" to whomever it is who cannot rest for worrying that you might not be on the bloody train.

Lady Bracknell has perorated in the past about members of theatre audiences who consider themselves to be sufficiently special that requests to turn off mobile phones don't apply to them. When I went to see Brad Fraser's "Snake In Fridge" at the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester some years ago, I particularly enjoyed his creative response to the important person problem. In pitch blackness, in a voice like poisoned molasses, he threatened to personally remove and destroy the phone of anyone foolhardy enough to ignore the request to turn them all off. Rarely have I seen so many people reach as one for their pocket/handbag to beat their phones into submission. (Great play, by the way. Don't know whether it's still being produced anywhere, but do go and see it if you get the chance.)

And yes, I do deplore the effect that "text speak" has had on the literacy levels of people in their teens and twenties. Although not half as much as I deplore the education authorities who permit this bastardisation of our fine language to be used in written exams. (It's twenty years since I was a student teacher. Even then, I was advised that making the little darlings correct every "could of" and "should of" stifled their precious creativity. And, as someone who had legitimately lost a mark in her mock RE A level exam for splitting an infinitive, I took this rather ill.)

I never, ever resort to "txt spk" in my own text messages. I just can't bring myself to do it. Knowing this, of course, the Dude fights his own vehement dislike of the phenomenon to compose messages to me including as much text speak as he can possibly cram into one short message. Just because he knows it makes me grind my teeth with rage.

Nevertheless, I love texting. In fact, it's not an exaggeration to say that texting probably saved my life. When you are dealing with such intense pain that you simply have no energy to spare on talking to anybody on the phone*, sending and receiving text messages has a value beyond rubies. You don't have to sit up. You don't have to change position. You don't have to un-clench your jaw sufficiently to force words out. But you're not alone. No-one can take the pain away from you, or manage it for you, but they can keep in touch and let you know they're thinking about you.

Plus, of course, there's something about the discipline of text messaging which makes communication by text very different from communication by telephone or by email. You've got a strictly finite character limit, so you've no opportunity to waffle. One is forced to be pithy, even if one is not naturally so inclined. They do say that brevity is the soul of wit, and it's not at all unusual for me to fall about laughing at the content of text messages I receive. Yes, even the ones from the Dude. (Drat - now I need to come up with a way of distracting him so that he will never read this post.)

*If you're fit as a flea yourself, it's probably very difficult to envisage having such limited reserves of stamina that talking to people of whom you are very fond on the phone could be exhausting. With the cost of phone calls lower than it has ever been, you may well think that it wouldn't be a problem if you were stuck at home for a while, because you'd be able to keep yourself perpetually amused by phoning everyone you know.

You never have to stop to consider whether the phone call you'd love to make will result in you being unfit to work the next day because it's taken so much out of you. And that's the enjoyable ones. Let alone any where you have to have your wits about you because you're ordering things, or wanting to register a complaint. If your phone rings, you answer it. If my phone rings, I have to try by some intuitive process to work out who it might be and whether I have the strength to talk to that person. I long ago lost any feelings of guilt I might once have had about not answering a ringing phone.

Which brings me neatly back to text messaging which, frankly, could have been designed with the weedy crip in mind. It takes almost no effort, but it brings huge rewards. I love it and I would be lost (or, at the very least, miserably lonely) without it.

So there you have it. My name is The Editor and I'm a text addict.


Anonymous Boogaloo Dude Esq. said...


Ha. I saw it. Thnk U 4 the ref. I am on PayasUgo, so I hv to think b4 I txt as it wsts ££. NEway I lk face 2 face talk bttr.


C U L8r


2:09 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Texting language is not new. Evelyn Waugh's agent once fixed him up a talk on BBC Radio at the usual derisory fee, to which offer Waugh replied:


(Your Ladyship's younger correspondents may need enlightening as to the significance of the second abbreviation. They should look it up themselves.)

8:21 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

I have to disagree. Admittedly I regularly have to terminate phone conversations because my head has exploded or because I can no longer hold the phone up to my ear, but if anything I find texting more exhausting. There's no room in a text to go
"uh, thingy, you know, thing, you put it in the door and it opens, dammit, you know what I mean..."
"Yes! Now why am I talking about keys?"
unless you have a LOT of credit to spare.

My preferred communication is online, emails or instant messaging or forums where I can check back to see what I said and what the other person said.

10:29 am  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

When text messages came into being that was quite a revolution. I have sveral deaf friends and half of my colleagues at work are deaf and for the first time ever we could make "phone calls" whenever we wanted to. I remember that years ago, when my deaf colleague had his first mobile phone we and some others had to go to Paris, where we agreed to meet at a certain restaurant. Some of us could not find the place, while the deaf person was already sitting in the restaurant. He guided us there via several sms. We all felt that was brilliant. A few months before he would have been sitting there for ages, while we probably would have gone back to the hotel. Text messages have definitly enhanced our life quality significantly. However, I am not using these strange abbreviations, except for LG (Liebe Grüsse = kind regards) and "mombi" (Moment bitte = wait a moment, please) if I have to check something before being able to give a sensible answer.

12:49 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Oo, I rather like "mombi": wonder whether I can introduce it to the UK...?

The Editor.

4:10 pm  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

If strange words like kindergarten, angst, or rucksack successfully made it nto the English language "mombi" shouldn't be a problem!

8:49 am  
Anonymous Boogaloo Dude said...


I know it is bad form to pass comment on someone else's comment rather than directly on the blog. However if I may crave your indulgence whilst I chat with our mutual friend Mone:-

1. Although Her Ladyship is far too polite to have said so directly in either of her perorartions on the subject, I would like to draw attention to the fact that deaf people in theatre audiences who text each other throughout the performance are probably completely unaware of the disruption this causes to the sound system and thus to the enjoyment of non-deaf audience members; and

2. You missed out my favourite "imported" word:


8:32 am  

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