I hazard a guess that a fair number of people reading this will have rolled their eyes and let out a passive aggressive sigh at the sound of a mobile phone going off.
Wherever you are the dreaded jingle is almost always met with annoyance.
My personal bugbear is on a train. ‘Hello? Yeah, I’m just on the train. Can we get those documents sent over tonight please? Cheers.’
Ex-tennis player Jennifer Capriati took her annoyance at technology to the extreme when she yelled ‘F***** mobile phones!’ after a spectator’s phone went off mid-point during the Italian Open.
Former footballer turned manager Roy Keane also joined the party. While manager of Ipswich Town, he interrupted his own press conference to stare daggers at a journalist whose phone twice went off.
‘Who’s phone is that?’ he asked furiously. ‘Why don’t you turn it off?’ ‘Oh, you’re just going to let it ring. That’s good manners,’ he said, visibly seething.
Theatre and cinema goers are repeatedly warned to switch off their devices.
Given these outbursts, it is perhaps surprising that in the serious environs of the courtroom this week the reaction to a phone call was far more sympathetic.
‘Please answer it, don’t be embarrassed’, Mr Justice Holman told a lawyer whose phone went off during a hearing in the family court.
‘I never mind when mobiles go off… We live in the modern world, and we like to keep our mobiles on. It may be somebody important,’ he added.
I am on the side of Capriati and Keane on this one.
Although Holman’s sympathy is admirable, surely a lawyer’s main focus should be on ensuring you give your client the best representation, especially in court?
We may be in a modern world, and the £1bn digital courts initiative is testament to that, but it shouldn’t stretch so far as to break off from proceedings to answer a call.
The judge, the opposition lawyers, and both clients should be treated with respect. Whoever was on the phone can wait.
Let’s hope, as Holman suggested, it really was someone important and that if it was answered it had a positive outcome on the case.
Otherwise, Holman should have opted for the Capriati approach.