A soggy Sunday morning. Low-lying mist shrouding the road. Mist blanketing the water I can usually see up ahead. I hope it's still there in a while when I get to the beach, so that everything is reduced to different shades of silvery gray. For now, though, I'm off to the park with the dog in the middle of the back seat. I can see her when I glance in the rear-view mirror, her nose sniffing the damp.
When does mist become fog? I'm not sure. All I know is that the park is shrouded in moisture when we arrive. I've seen this happen before: it's spectacular. But today the gray grey pall is breaking up even as we head off across squelching grass.
It's early. There are few other people around: a handful of other dog-walkers; a jogger with puffs of breath fogging in front of her. I know, though, that if I stick around I'll see them – the phone people, with heads down, staring at screens, ignoring everything around them; all the morning sights and sounds and smells. Can it really be so important, so pressing?
At least the screen people are mostly silent. Unlike the talkers, the ones in the park or on the sand, their phones held aloft like a waiter with a tray, or with a microphone on the wire leading to an ear-piece, speaking too loudly to nobody visible: "So you can IMAGINE what I thought... And then HE said... No! I couldn't believe it either..."
It's a modern twist on the old Leunig cartoon: the little man and a boy enraptured by a sunset on his TV while, outside, the real sun descends. Phone people imagine they're staying abreast even as they're missing out. Technology has made it easier to miss a first-hand experience. Adele and I agree on this. The singer recently stopped a concert to ask a fan to stop filming her. "You can enjoy it in real life, rather than through your camera," she said. Exactly. But that filmer is not alone. In concerts or at the park, Adele will find someone like her.
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