Monday, September 25, 2006

Sorry, Wrong Number!

The dangers of instant messaging were something I chuntered on about only a few days ago and, lo and possibly behold as well, there’s another example popped up in yesterday’s papers.

It seems that a television company had made the egregious error of despatching not one, but two, female producers to shoot some material on African wild life. Now I would have thought that any tried-in-the-furnace male could have pointed out that this was going to be a recipe for disaster. And so it proved to be.

For one objected to the other’s choice of camera angles and, I must admit, that with giraffes, this is a knotty problem. The optimum angle is to turn the camera on its side in order to get the whole darn thing in the frame, otherwise you get a picture with miles of savannah on either side of the main event.

Whatever the reasons, one producer got her knickers in a twist over this choice of camera angles, as those women producers who still wear them are prone to do.

Instead of relieving her feelings by taking a swat at a passing rhinoceros, she elected to send a text message to her husband in London. Having composed this, using some fruity phrases more commonly found in the vocabulary of frustrated matelots, she hit the send button. And bingo, sent it to her colleague still trying to get the giraffe in her viewfinder. What happened subsequently is not clear, but there seems to have been a rumble in the jungle and the TV company now have only one producer sweating it out in Tarzan land.

With runners, cleft sticks and later mail services, unless one was a complete klutz and muddled up the envelopes, this sort of embarrassing confusion was unlikely to happen.

But now world leaders communicate very often on a piece of fruit, a raspberry or something, and the dangers of the system must be apparent.

Take, for instance, President Kennedy, if, having faced down Kruschev over the nuclear missile business had texted Marilyn Monroe “I cut his balls off” (as he actually did say) and then had inadvertently hit the wrong button and shot the message off to the Kremlin.

Now I’m not sure what the Russian for umbrage is but I am pretty sure that Kruschev, who was a hot-headed peasant even on his better days, would have taken it as an affront, in spades, as they say. And World War Three would have kicked off.

Fortunately I live in a part of the world with which technology has only a passing interest. My cell phone (the French call it a “Portable”) works only when Mars, Uranus and a couple of other planets are in alignment and when this coincides with a high tide at Cap Frehat, so, as a means of communication, as opposed to a fashion accessory, it’s a bit of a non-event.

And, the other day, when I turned it on it read “SIM Arrête,” which, as the erudite among you know, means it’s broke. It followed with instructions to consult my vendor. I did so, a charming girl, and she twiddled with it for a while before handing it back to me with a smile. “Ah, oui, SIM arrête,” she said, agreeably. So now I have to go to the big city to find the “SIM non arrête” shop to get the little chip replaced.

As for E-Mails, France Telecom, who now call themselves Orange for some unknown reason, confidently predict that I shall have ADSL in my little corner of the world before the next millennium comes around.

The advantage here is that, with my present speed of communication, if I should inadvertently send a message to the wrong address, I can chase after it and retrieve the thing before it has got much further than the next bend in the road.


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