Outdoor trading is something I have always loved, but some outdoor gigs are definitely more hassle than others. The worst thing to contend with is definitely wind. Last weekend’s potentially wonderful day at Croydon Pridefest took place in something that was less your gentle summer breeze, more of a howling gale: the old-school market stalls provided had to have the tarpaulin tops removed before every stall up and flew away. Still, as it was less than ten minutes from my house, I was able to run home for a load of clear plastic sleeves and wrap every book to prevent damage from the intermittent rain showers.
But the other problem I had to contend with was the absence of my phone. It’s not the first time I have mislaid or forgotten a mobile phone but, back in the day, this was never more than a minor inconvenience: you had a landline, you had email and people accepted that you might just be away from your computer for the weekend. When I first realised, on the Friday evening, that I had left my mobile at the day job workplace I thought; oh well. I have a tablet, I have my laptop, I even have the Work Phone.
However, the tablet has no independent wifi, and all my passwords and logins for pretty much everything are saved on my phone – and I couldn’t remember them. And there was the little matter of having finally got with the modern world and acquired a card reader which needed… some sort of wifi access to operate. Which was not terribly available in the middle of the park.
One of the things the right-of-centre frequently whine and moan about is what they see as the lower orders’ dependence on smartphones. There are actually so many things a person struggles to do without an internet-capable phone or other device that complaining of ordinary people prioritising technology seems remarkably insensitive and stupid. Didn’t the pandemic demonstrate just how essential these things can be? (Even if you’re trying to use one on a day so windy all you can hear is roaring…)