Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

September 2010

GeneralTuesday, September 28th, 2010, (7:00 am)

The iPhone is almost as ubiquitous these days as the iPod that came before it. Despite it’s recent bad press Apple’s alluring smartphone is still a desirable object and something of a status symbol. So what is it about emails appended with “Sent from my iPhone” that I find so irritating?

Picture the scene; You’re sat in the waiting room at your dentists office leafing through the pages of an old National Geographic magazine that has clearly been living there for a while. As you read about the Mountain midgets of darkest Peru someone walks into the office and approaches the receptionist.

“Hello, I’m Mr Downing, I have a two o’clock appointment with Dr Johnson.” The receptionist looks at her screen taps a few keys then does that half smile thing as she tells the person to take a seat. With their exchange at an end he then announces “I came here today in my Mercedes Benz.”

That would be a little odd. I think people would furtively look the person up and down to assess just how big of a doofus he was. Why would he think we care how he got here or what kind of car he has. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Who does that?”

Well, lots of people do. Those smug bastards who own Apple iPhones do it all the time, sending emails appended with the footnote “Sent from my iPhone.” Like we give a crap what device they sent the email from!

I know it’s silly, but there’s just something about that footnote that just rubs me up the wrong way. It’s just not cool. It’s like owning a Porsche and then wearing Porsche branded clothing all the time. It has a swaggering quality to it, like some beefed-up tattooed and overly tanned bonehead at the gym who insists on wearing their ridiculously large gold bling as they sit in the sauna.

I won’t deny, iPhones themselves are cool, but that little footnote feels like a “fuck you” to me. “Fuck you and your shitty little Sony Ericsson with its cracked screen and crappy falling apart number pad. And fuck you for having a phone that still only has a number pad you loser!”

It’s like those words “Sent from my iPhone” are laughing at me. They’re trying to induce jealously, to bring out a need within me to get an iPhone so I too can be as connected, as switched on, as haughty and superior as all those iPhone people.

Of course, it’s not really the fault of the people who own iPhones. They’re just too lazy to remove the signature which is automatically appended to their emails. The truth is Apple want to create an iPhone shaped gap in my life and they’re just using my friends and colleagues to do it. “Sent from my iPhone, and by the way, because you don’t have and iPhone, YOU SUCK!”

Look, I know my phone isn’t beautiful, and it’s certainly not at all “smart.” It’s beat up and dumb as bricks, but it does what I need it to do. Yes, I know I would probably like an iPhone and find it immensely useful, but right now I’m a dumb phone user and I’m happy with that. In fact, I’m so happy with my dumb phone that if I was to ever to attempt using it to send an email to an iPhone user, I think I would spend the twenty minutes it would take me to append the message with “Sent from my piece of shit Sony Ericsson with a cracked screen and crappy falling apart number pad. Now go fuck yourself.”

Remove or disable “Sent from my iPhone” email signature
Sent from my iPhone—You Suck!
What “Sent From My iPhone” Means To Me
Just so you know
Something for you iPhone users
The ringtone
Doing life the hard way

TravelFriday, September 24th, 2010, (7:35 pm)

The Independent newspaper in the UK run an occasional interview series called ‘My Life In Travel’ in which subjects answer the same list of questions. Among those interviewed have been actor Darryl Hannah, singer, songwriter Katie Melua, BBC Top Gear’s James May, and adventure junky Charley Boorman. Just for fun I thought I would answer their list of questions too.

First holiday memory?
As a family we used to go to farm cottages around Britain. I remember staying at one farm where at the crack of dawn I would jump out of bed to go and ‘help’ the farmer milk the cows.

Best holiday?
That’s a tough call. I think that my ‘Long Way Home‘ tour a couple of years ago would take that title, but in fairness I could name many other great holidays or trips. Like my first trip to India back in 2004 which really left an impression on me. Or the trip I took to Rovinj in Croatia with my brother shortly after his wife died. That was special because it was one of the few times we’ve hung out with one another as friends rather than just siblings.

Aitutaki, The Cook Islands : Photograph by Simon Jones

Favourite place in the British Isles?
The Scottish Highlands are amazing. The landscape up there is awesome and it isn’t overtaken by people, shopping malls, traffic, CCTV cameras, and urban sprawl.

What have you learnt from your travels?
A silly as it may seem, I’ve learned that people do things differently. That is to say that I’ve seen how other cultures approach things and how that’s sometimes entirely different to what I would consider normal.

I’ve also learned that the great stories come from your willingness to be brave and try new things. You can’t get memories like eating food off a banana leaf in a dirty Indian roadside eatery, or skinny dipping in a volcanically heated river on a snow covered mountain in Iceland in winter, without being willing to be a least a little brave.

Ideal travelling companion?
Someone who doesn’t cling to a map or tourist guide like their life depended on it. A person who understands that the adventure doesn’t often come with a timetable or a plan.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I like to mix it up. I can do beaches but I couldn’t sit there for long before I’d have to get up and go exploring. I can do culture but I won’t spend time with my head in a book about the place in which I’m standing. I can do adrenalin, but it’ll more likely be a Police ride-along that a bungee jump.

Greatest travel luxury?
Noise canceling headphones! Air travel is just SO much better with these wonders of technology. Even train travel is better with them. I’m yearning for a pair of Bose, but oh the price tag!

Holiday reading?
Truth be known, I’m not much or a reader, but if my flight is upgraded then maybe I’ll be reading some expensive glossy magazine from the business class lounge that I wouldn’t usually buy myself.

Where has seduced you?
I would say that the tropical South Pacific lagoon of Aitutaki seduced me. The unspoiled and near deserted white beaches reaching out into the clear turquoise and sapphire blue water were breath-taking. I spent much of the time I was there just laughing to myself in disbelief that a place this beautiful was actually real and not the photoshopped creation of a brochure selling expensive vacations. India as a country seduced me too with its rich culture and chaotic energy.

Aitutaki, The Cook Islands : Photograph by Simon Jones

Better to travel or to arrive?
I like to travel for sure, but I understand the need to just arrive. Travel can be exhausting and it’s easy to burn out so its imperative that while you’re traveling you take the time to stop, put your stuff down, and be grounded for a while.

Worst travel experience?
When my American friend Becky was detained and deported from the UK on our arrival back from a trip to Croatia. That was truly an awful experience. It was that experience that really crystalized my deep hatred of the UK Border Agency.

Worst holiday?
Leavenworth. The place was this nasty little fake German town in the middle of Washington State. I visited there with someone who clearly didn’t want to be with me and the entire trip was just terrible.

Worst hotel : Photograph by Simon JonesWorst hotel?
The Howard Johnson Hotel in Bremeton, also in Washington State. This place was so disgusting and nasty that I refused to stay there. It was in the worst state of neglect I have ever seen.

Best hotel?
I could say Hotel 71 right in the heart of Chicago, or the Royal Sonesta on Burbon Street, New Orleans, or the amazing tree house in the Northern Californian woods. However, I am going to say the White Eagle Saloon in Portland.

It could have been a contender for the worst hotel honor too. It was small, basic, and a very loud band played well into the small hours of the night right beneath the hotel room causing everything to constantly shudder. I don’t know how I found sleep there, but I will say it was the best hotel because staying there was just hilarious, and fun.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?
My Greyhound bus ride across the United States from California to Washington DC and back again. My only regret about that trip is that I wasn’t writing much back then and I wasn’t brave enough to photograph life on the bus. The stories from that journey alone could be a book.

Best meal abroad?
That would be a mountainous lobster platter ‘Posh’ and I shared in a little back street restaurant in Brussels. I’m not sure it was the best food I ever tasted, but it was the first time I had ever eaten lobster and the process, with the special utensils, was a lot of fun.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Check my email. I know it’s not cool though I suspect it’s more common than we’d like to admit.

Dream trip?
I’ve long wanted to travel across America in various different modes of transport. A bus, a Harley, a classic car, a combine harvester, a crop duster, whatever. It would be cool to take the time to travel from one coast to the next taking in various means of travel and experiencing the lives of the people along the way. I have a similar variation of this dream now traveling from Australia to England.

Favourite city?
I won’t pick one because great cities are like the great people you meet. They have their charm, the stuff that makes them interesting, and to compare them would somehow do a disservice to them all.

Where next?
Watch this space!

What about you? Taking those questions, or a selection of them, how about your life in travel?


GeneralSaturday, September 18th, 2010, (11:13 pm)

Dear Summer Sun. Was it something we said? Did we upset you somehow? It’s only September and it seems you’ve already left us. Whatever it was that made you leave, if you come back I’m sure we can work it out.

British SummerYes, I know that here in Britain we complain and whine about you. But it’s not because we don’t like you, it’s because we don’t see enough of you, and you don’t visit as often as we would like. So you see, we’re not really complaining, we just want to see you a little more, that’s all.

When our friends bemoan your absense we find ourselves being defense on your behalf, justifying those four days a couple of weeks ago as being time enough for us all. We’re not fooling anyone though, a few days with you here and there is hardly quality time.

Maybe we’ve grown apart, but I would suggest that’s because your mid week visits were not well timed for us to be able to spend time just enjoying one anothers company. We can fix that though. It’s not too late now surely?

Soon the evenings will be dark and we’ll be commuting home under the glimmer of street lights. Summer 2010 will be consigned to memory and referred to as ‘the past.’ But it’s still just September and our gardens are still alive and green. It just feels wrong to turn on the central heating and look for our gloves and scarf when we go outside now.

We know you’ve got other places you need to be, but surely they don’t mind waiting just a couple of weeks? There’s still time for you to make a final call, to come and stay for a week, maybe even two.

Sun, we don’t want to beg, but surely you could visit us just one last time before the seasons change and you leave once more for months on end?

Flood warnings ruin another August UK holiday weekend
August rain is a return to British summer
Barbecue bummer

Environment and GeneralWednesday, September 15th, 2010, (9:07 pm)

Rosie Walsh from the town of Wallasey in the UK is apparently fed up with her man. So much so, she has decided to give him away on the internet.


Using her local group, Rosie recently posted an ad offering to give away a “man.” Freecycle is a free online service that allows people to give away items that they no longer have a need for.

Rosie’s description of said man is a little vague. His ethnicity is not listed but after being painted he is now a white man. Presumably in good health, he is offered as “free standing,” though Rosie is not a woman to be messed with because she is apparently not adverse to the idea of hanging him if required.

Rosie isn’t required to state a reason for why she no longer requires her man, and neither has she. Perhaps she upgraded to a better model, or maybe she simply didn’t feel the need for a man in her life anymore.

Whatever her reason, Rosie obviously believes the old adage that one persons trash is another persons treasure, and to that end she is giving him away to the first person who offers to collect him.

Certainly if my experience of freecycle is anything to go by, Rosie will be free and single within no time at all.
Friday funnies

ArtFriday, September 10th, 2010, (11:34 am)

We all have habits and little quirks that we don’t give much thought to, minor indulgences we enjoy in passing. One of mine is the rather silly practice of creating what I’ll loosely call ‘bathtub art.’

Bathtub art

I took these pictures a while ago after I had a Jackson Pollock moment with the bubble bath and the shiny white ‘canvas’ of the empty bathtub. The funny thing is that this wasn’t an isolated incident, I do this every single time I have a bath.

I don’t usually photograph it, but I do stand there and daub the bubble bath in random Pollock style swirls. Sometimes I even take the time to dribble a few other colors to really add to the ‘art.’ And yes, that means that I have indeed purchased bottles of bubble bath for no other reason than their color!

There’s no method to this, no abstract expressionism or art to be deciphered. It’s like I said.. We all have habits and little quirks that we don’t give much thought to, minor indulgences we enjoy in passing. This just happens to be one of mine.

Bathtub art

Unleash your inner Pollock
The price of genius
Bubble trouble
Say hello to Mermac

MoviesFriday, September 3rd, 2010, (1:42 am)

For anyone who enjoys ‘people watching’ the movie below is a treat. It’s called ‘Lift’ by British documentary film maker, Marc Isaacs. The strangely charming film is shot entirely within the confines of an elevator inside a block of flats in the East End of London.

I’m sure we’ve all stood in an elevator and wondered about the story of the person we’re anonymously riding with. Back in 2001 Isaacs spent two months riding up and down the elevator with the residents of the London flats, and gradually the metal box became a kind of confessional in which people cautiously opened their hearts.

In an interview Isaacs said of the film. “It’s an awkward thing to stand there; people are naked if you like: there’s nowhere to hide, and whatever they do is revealing. That’s probably true anyway, but it’s magnified because it’s their face against a metallic background and they can’t really ignore the camera, so even if people don’t say very much it’s still quite interesting.”

Isaacs has won numerous awards for his short films, including several for ‘Lift.’ His most recent film called ‘Men of the City‘ was featured on BBC TV’s Storyville series last year.

‘Lift’ is twenty five minutes long so I appreciate many of you won’t have the time to sit and watch this. However, I really think this is a quite fascinating short film so I hope you will be able to find the time to watch it at some point, maybe over the weekend? I certainly would like to hear what you thought of the film if you do watch it.