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Ben Harvey – My Heart Bleeds

So mobiles have finally killed someone

About bloody time, I say..

I mean, god almighty – for ten, maybe fifteen years now we’ve all been shrugging off the spectre of mast-radiation, of brain-tumours in the same way that a duck shrugs off rain; it’s dull and it’s boring and, yet, it doesn’t do you the faintest bit of harm but – but but but – but it’s just a relief when it stops. When the superstitious nonsense stops and you can just get on with your life.

Or not, as the case may be.

It’s a little bit of a harsh way to go, I’ll admit, is having your mobile phone detonate to the extent that it drives shards of your own ribcage into your heart. It’s the unexpectedness that really makes it terrifying; your mobile lies alongside your Keys and Wallet to make up the Holy Trinity of your life, and the fact that it’s now the case that your phone can kill you stone dead is as unexpected as a doctor ringing you up to say ‘I’m terribly, terribly sorry, but we’ve had some test-results back and you’ve got a terminal case of Debitcarditis. I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do”.

Modern Life – as Blur famously said – Is Rubbish. It’s rubbish for a lot of reasons (Cadburys Crème Eggs get smaller, bills get bigger, that sort of thing) but mostly it’s because, as time goes by, more & more things become dangerous. Cigarettes have gone, in the last twenty years, from being rather dashing to being utterly stupid. Booze has gone from being the amusing diversion of the many to being the last refuge of the jaundice-yellow few. Sex will get you diseased & dead quicker than sharing needles with the Elephant Man and now, it seems, even talking to your friends will break your heart in the most disgustingly literal way possible,

This is the trouble when you let anything into your life; when something becomes as familiar as furniture, that’s when you let your guard down. There are some things around you that you know are a hazard, but you make allowances for them, because the pleasure they give you outweighs the possibility of them suddenly turning nasty and ending your life; the fast drives in your car, all the flights you take, the rohypnol’d illegal immigrants that you have chained up in your love-dungeon. The thing – the nasty, horribly, desperately inevitable thing – about the law of averages is as follows; it catches up with you eventually.

And now, into the calculus of death, we now have to factor in our bloody mobiles! Will it never stop? What next? What’s next on the conveyor-belt of crap to worry about? Global Warming. Bird Flu. Marauding hordes of cannibals storming out of London to eat us all when the housing market finally admits it’s fucked & nobody’s able to afford food anymore. I don’t know about you lot but I’m a busy man, and I’m finding it harder and harder to schedule sufficient slots into my busy diary to sit down and really give these things the worry-time they all seems to deserve. This scheduling problem is compounded slightly by the fact that I daren’t actually check my calendar, given that my handset might go capriciously go pop and take my face off.

The irony of all of this is that phones have been exploding for years. And they’ve been killing people for years; the logic behind this is seductively self-explanational enough for me to lay it before you without any facts to back it up, and goes as follows – why, if you’re a government agency that wants to assassinate someone, go to the bother of training a sharpshooter, and then sending him to possibly get rumbled whilst waiting for a target that may never turn up? Why not, instead, just plant a few grams of semtex in the target’s mobile and then call them, whereupon he or she will – most obligingly – press the explosives directly to their own temple…? From the point of view of, say, MI6, this is perfect; it’s cheap, simple, effective and, if you’re caught, you can just blame LG.

Now, so far – as you may have noticed – I’ve been pitching this article as a substantially heartless flail at a mobile that appears to exploded, which is all fairly pointless, given that this is the first seemingly-verifiable case of a lethal phone out of all the 1.5 billion handsets that have ever been made. You’re over 100 times more likely to win the lottery than you are to have your own heart shucked out of your ribcage by a dodgy battery, so why the fuss? Well, dear reader, the fuss comes from the fact that all of this just highlights not the direct deaths, but the indirect deaths; the indirect maimings, the indirect danger that we’re put in every time we’re distracted or surprised by a call. Banning the use of non-hands-free phones whilst driving was the start of the government acknowledging this as a widespread problem, and there are upcoming changes to the UK’s legislation to ban the use of phones whilst crossing the road (in the Criminal Jaywalking Act 2008) and to ban the making calls to people whilst you’re sat on the can (in the Generally Ickky Justice Act 2009).

In the meantime, though the spectre of your mobile blowing chunks off of (or, indeed, in to) your fleshy, mortal, alarmingly-vulnerable little body is sure to inspire all sorts of impressionable idiots into holding their telephones out at arm’s length and bellowing into it because then – by their idiot logic – it’ll only take their fingers off. However, these are the conclusions of the sort of people who cook their hamburgers twice (so as to get rid of the BSE) and who check their horoscopes so that they can see exactly what’s going to happen to them that day (them, and one twelfth of the population). Hopefully this sort of person will be so worried about the situation that they’ll have a plain old-fashioned heart attack, thus raising the world’s average IQ by a small, but valuable, little bit.

In the meantime, the new challenges posed – in terms of staying alive – have been solved neatly by stowing my phone not in my shirt-pocket (close to some important organs) but instead in my trouser-pocket (close to the most important of organs). This then gives me an excuse to wear my cricket-box all the time, which adds a pleasant extra curvature to my form, and, let’s face it, men risk death & serious injury to impress women all the time anyway…

But when your number’s up, your number’s up…

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