`Hello ... I'm on the beach ... ': cross words
Head to head Should we use mobile phones in public? Certainly, says mobile phone millionaire Martin Dawes. Never, replies deep-fat phone- fryer Ugur Vata
Saturday 08 May 1999
"People need to be contactable. I've had a mobile since 1985, and wouldn't want to be without one. When you're on the move it's very important. I think it's totally invaluable when you're travelling, on aeroplanes and abroad, and even on trains. Trains normally run about half an hour late, so if you're going to be late for a meeting at least you can phone up and warn people, whereas in the past people would just be left high and dry. Mobiles give a feeling of well-being and take away the panic when you're running late.
I think generally people have good manners and switch them off if they're in a place they shouldn't be using them, and a lot of modern phones have a vibrator [mode] in them, so if it's in your pocket you can feel it rumbling. You know there's a call but it's not actually obvious to anyone else. A ban on mobiles would restrict communication: sales managers want to keep in touch with their salesmen, technical people need to speak to their head office. Thanks to mobile phones we have far greater communication, and if people are going to run their businesses efficiently, they need to communicate. People need to be contactable.
Mobile phones provide an opportunity to speak to friends, there's the convenience, and then there's a safety factor: people who are not high users will perhaps have a phone in the car in case they break down on the motorway. The health scares are a concern but to my knowledge there hasn't been anyone saying conclusively that it's bad for you. And you can get hearing devices which work very well. In the next five or six years everyone will have a mobile phone. Other countries have more mobile phones than we have. The Italians love them. It's important to have a mobile phone and to be seen with it."
Martin Dawes is a business entrepreneur. He sold his chain of mobile- phone shops to Cellnet in March for pounds 70m
Anti-mobiles in public
"I've got a mobile but I never turn it on if I'm going somewhere in town. I never use it publicly. If my phone rings, I excuse myself and find a quiet corner. Trains are the worst. People phone to say, `Hi darling, I'll be there in 10 minutes.' And then there are all the different tunes: one minute it's Vivaldi and the next minute it's something different, and you think, `For God's sake turn it off.'
Most mobiles have answering services, so why don't people use them? As for the health side of it - we are cooking our brains. Lots of people seem to be turning a blind eye to this, just as with BSE, but in the long term I think we are going to pay a price.
I get very fed up with mobile phones in the restaurant. The point of being here is to experience the food and pay attention to it. If you're eating with a fork in one hand and the phone on your shoulder, it's not really appreciating it to its fullest. One week there were two businessmen dining here. One had a phone which rang throughout their lunch, which was eventually broken by the other man who literally smashed it on the table and said, `You're having a meeting with me, and I'm not putting up with it.' The next time they dined, the other guy's phone was ringing a lot, so obviously he thought he'd go one better. So when his lunch partner had gone off to the bathroom, he said to me, `Deep-fry that for me.'
It was an odd request, but I was also fed up so I said, `Fine.' Chef served it with a slice of lemon and French fries on a nice white plate: we served it to him when it got to their main course.
I'd be happy to deep-fry another phone any time. If, after a nice, polite warning, customers still continue to use their mobiles here then I now say, `Watch out for that deep-fat fryer'."
Ugur Vata is the owner, and sometimes chef, of the Galley Restaurant, 25 Saint Nicholas Street, Ipswich
Interviews by Kate Mikhail
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