Simon Kelner: Virgin Atlantic's idea is verging on the unbearable

 

Share
Related Topics

It was an exchange which made me realise why I am not rich and powerful. I was telling a friend of mine – a young, wealthy and successful individual – that I thought there was something luxurious about a trans-Atlantic plane journey. You could sit, watch a movie or two, have someone serve you drinks and food, maybe take a little nap and – most satisfying of all – no one could get hold of you.

He looked shocked. It was his idea of hell: how could I bear to be out of touch for such a long time? What if the office needed to get hold of me? What if an important decision had to be made? In this narrow sense, of course, he was right. But he also represented a strain in modern life in which people feel so important that they think they must be available at all times.

We are connected to our friends – real and Facebook – to our family, to our followers (I am talking Twitter here, not religious devotees); to our business life, every minute of the day, and the idea of simply having our own thoughts for company is enough to terrify even the most reflective of modern souls.

Yes, that's right – hours without the philosophical musings of Joey Barton or the self-promotional messages of Piers Morgan. Whole swathes of time without seeing your friends' holiday snaps. No texts or emails. And no one calling you up with problems that have to be solved that very moment. (My friend, Dr G , said that, when an urgent call goes up to find a doctor in the house, he walks very slowly towards the incident on the basis that the matter has generally been resolved by the time he arrives on the scene. I have adopted the same strategy to problems.)

Anyway, for all those who are phobic about being incommunicado, help is at hand with Virgin Atlantic's announcement that they are to permit mobile phone calls on long-haul journeys. For those of us who cannot stand hearing one side of someone's private phone call, it's another degradation of life in a public space. Can you imagine it? You're just nodding off to the sound of Jennifer Aniston being all cutesy and your neighbour's bloody barking dog ringtone goes off. And then someone, attempting to be funny and ironic but actually sounding like an idiot, will actually say: "I'm on the plane."

And on it goes: all you'll hear is people saying "absolutely" and "cool" a hundred times before ringing off with a promise to call "when I get to the other side". And then there's the continual beeping and buzzing of text messages.

And who's going to police their use when everyone's asleep?

The man from Virgin said: "It's quite fun to call home and say: 'Guess where I am?' Not many would think you're travelling at 35,000ft above the Atlantic," but I'm not sure that this was why the mobile phone was invented. And you can hear it now: Damn, I always lose the signal over the Azores!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police officers attempt to stop illegal migrants from jumping onto trucks headed for Britain in the northeastern French port of Calais on October 29, 2014  

Tighter security in Calais won’t solve the problem

Nigel Morris
 

Football needs its Martin Luther moment, and soon

Boyd Tonkin
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines