While swanning around the labyrinthine corridors of my unconscious mind the other night, I managed to walk past all the doors that would likely open into fantastical, other-worldly adventures – allowing me to inhabit a ridiculously attractive superhero version of myself – and instead stumbled into a room full of discarded, soiled nappies, with a cat brushing up against my leg. But like walking into a Crystal Maze game-room with Richard O’Brien’s instructions ringing in my ears, I seemed to know exactly what to do: stop the cat eating the baby shit. Wonderful.
I tried my best, tiptoeing balletically through the faecal minefield, but the cat was frustratingly tenacious. No sooner was I shooing it away from one spattered nappy than I was desperately trying to prevent it from lapping up a soupy shit from another. I awoke to the sound of my retching, where I promptly tweeted about the experience (because there’s simply no point in having a dream like that unless you can instantly repulse 400 strangers).
My hugely underwhelming dream made me wonder if my mind had finally established that I’m actually rather dull, so was merely generating the dreams I deserved. The following night, I’d probably drift off to sleep and find myself trying to locate a vole in a towering pile of beige knitwear. Failure to locate the rodent would then trigger a penalty task in which I would have to assemble a flat-pack wardrobe with Bill Roache.
I recently read a story about how Samsung had filed a patent for an auto-generating life diary “by collecting all manner of information about your daily routine from your smartphone”. Even though I despise the very idea of such an application, I guess it makes sense. Pretty much everything we do, think and feel is either done with, or transmitted by, the little devices we keep welded to the palms of our hands every day. If I am indeed crushingly dull, then my iPhone probably holds the key to confirming this assumption.
My apps were the first thing I checked. A good friend of mine recently posted details of a new app on Facebook called 123D Catch, which can turn photos into amazing 3D models. He has a unique ability for sniffing out cutting edge, interesting apps that do cool things. I, on the other hand, have a spirit level and a torch app, which I appear to have subliminally equipped myself with should I ever need to build a small wall in failing light.
My most recent app is Flightradar24, a flight tracking service that provides real-time info about thousands of aircraft around the world. The other day, my wife asked me why I’d suddenly got up from the sofa to stare out of the window at the overcast sky. The awful shame of explaining that I was trying to spot the Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Heathrow flying by – as indicated by my app – simply wasn’t an option. “No reason,” I meekly replied, before swiftly returning to my seat.
I got tremendously excited the other night when I spotted a ‘Polar Air Cargo‘ flight on the map, flying over the North Sea. Even though the flight was probably only carrying supplies of Pot Noodle and pornography, I like to imagine that it was transporting flamethrowers and dynamite to a strung out Kurt Russell, holed up in a partially destroyed Antarctic research station. Still, active imagination aside, the initial analysis of my iPhone was practically bending the needle of the dull-o-meter.
One app that I thought might be quite revealing was Audioboo. What had I recorded in days gone by, I wondered? Snippets of live music from exclusive secret gigs? Scraps of treasured audio from wild nights out with friends? No. The answer: a recording of my neighbour using his deafeningly loud leaf blower on a Sunday afternoon (even though he’s retired and has all fucking week to do it while the rest of us are at work). There was also a recording of the sound of marble-sized hail hammering against my office window, and precisely one minute of Ceefax saxophone-based muzak. Thrilling.
Meanwhile, my iPhone’s ‘notes’ were full of hastily typed vehicle descriptions and registration numbers of suspicious cars and vans (my posthumous gift to the Crimewatch reconstruction team); wonderfully random shopping lists (e.g. milk, kitchen roll, cloths, sponges, The Longest Day); and a proud ‘note to self’ which simply read: “Poo travelling at 4.76mph-4.90mph” (a reference to a ‘number two’ I parted company with on World Toilet Day 2011, and subsequently monitored using the Flush Tracker website).
Of course, my photo library provided even more information about the extent of my dullness. The photo I’d taken of some tarpaulin-wrapped sand that was briefly abandoned in front of my car port – to potentially use in a future complaint letter to the builders who left it there – had a uniquely dull quality to it, and would no doubt have provided my so-called ‘automated life diary’ with a pivotal moment from that particular day. As would the photo I’d taken of a shop display with some mugs that spelled out the word TWAT.
These are the mundane observations, recorded happenings and consciously chosen smartphone applications of a crushingly dull man. My mind was right, and the iPhone doesn’t lie. Still, at least any future life diary will provide my descendants with a digital account of where I went wrong. Hopefully, that way, they’ll have a more exciting time of it, stride about the place with their scintillating personalities and become huge successes. I’ll just be the dull ancestor who took photos of sand and monitored the subterranean journey of his own shit. I guess I’ll have to live with that.