Tales of Wood Group: Alexander Graham Bell, the destroyer of contact.

Lying is done with words and also with silence.
Adrienne Rich


Telephones: Those things with speakers and microphones on them, and occasionally have the numbers from 0 to 9 on them too.

Sometimes, and I know it might be hard to believe, but they do come attached to a wall. No, beyond the need to charge it! The old style phone used to be unable to move about, sitting singular on its own, unable to annoy train passengers, take photos, and get dropped into a pint when you are. I know, you might have not came across them in these days of email, text, and television, but the used to enable people to have actual conversation with persons, without resorting to awful spelling and poor grammar.

The wonderful thing about the telephone is the different ways in which it can be used. You can make calls, and you can receive them. Sitting here at my desk, in an air conditioned office, you can see why they are slowly going of fashion.

If I get an email, I have a couple of choices.
- The first is to ignore it. I can normally get away with this by exclaiming that “I never received it” or “It got lost amongst the other emails” but usually this only a stalling tactic. It means you can give enough time to think of an answer that is correct, or at the very least, is so vague that it cannot be wrong.
- The second is to word an email back to the person that in a roundabout and unobvious way asks them the same question that they just asked. This usually works why it is a confirmation email, one where an opinion on a course of action is required. If you don’t know the correct way to give an opinion, ask them theirs, in a positive way, suggesting that you have indicated that you agree without saying that you do.
- Thirdly, you can CC it to some else, with those two letters “FYI”. This is the electronic equivalent of being “put on hold whilst I transfer you another department.
That's why I always send an email; to give the other person that time to decide whether or not they want to reply to me.

The thing about telephones is that you get the tone of the person who is talking to you. This rules out sarcasm being misinterpreted, and also means that you cannot lie easily. It is very easy to lie convincingly in an email - the words do all the important eye contact stuff for you.

In this respect phone is an outdated invention, and that is why I get such a surprise every time it rings. And, I am even more surprised, when it is not either my father or Hazel; someone phoning to ask a question they are expecting an answer too almost always makes me jump out of my skin.

In the office I have noticed is that someone must around each week to clean the phones and key boards and mouses (mice?). They always smell very clinical when I use them, and the mouth piece of the phone tastes horrible. Don’t ask why I tasted it, we should probably not go there.

So, to those who work in the real world, send emails; let’s get rid of all human to human contact. The internet is almost there, we just need one further step to it. Sometimes I wonder if it would be more productive for me to work at home, where I could sit in my pants, eating cheese, and watching BBC News 24s ticker creep along the screen.