Well, that’s not quite true. We do talk – a lot – but (and this is crucial), not directly. Instead we’ve evolved a brilliant system where news is transmitted at the speed of light, to make sure everyone knows what’s going on, but in reverse order. So, let’s say person A has something to tell or ask person B. The last thing they do is contact B direct. Instead A talks to C (in confidence) who then phones D (also in confidence), who happens to be with E and then emails F (to make sure they don’t feel left out – but remember, mum’s the word).Then (after canvassing a group opinion) E or F will contact B with some version of the original message. B will then consult with C, who’ll text D and C will get back to A with B’s thoughts.
It sounds complicated, but takes about 40 seconds. And it leads to conversations like this:
‘Hi Mum it’s Emma.’
‘Oh hi Emma, how are you?’
‘Grand thanks – yourself?’
‘Oh fine. Your father’s out pruning the roses’
‘Great. Did his birthday present arrived from Ruth’.
‘Yes, he got it this morning. We’ve been out all day so haven’t talked to her yet. Why – did she phone you?’
‘No I just think she might be worried it hasn’t arrived. So maybe you could give her a call now to let her know?’
‘I will: why is she annoyed?’
‘No, no, not at all – she’s having a busy day at work and it might be nice to hear from you’.
‘Ok I’ll phone her now. Michael says you’re having fish for dinner?’
‘Er – yes.’
‘Only there’s a thing in the Mail about making sure you cook it properly: so give it a few extra minutes’.
‘Ok. Bye mum’
(20 secs later)
‘Hello – Ruth?’
‘Hi Mum you alright?’
‘Yes love: just wanted you to know your father loved his parcel. We’ve been out all day so haven’t had the chance to phone’
‘Oh glad it arrived safe. Well I’m at work so I’ll phone later’
‘Oh ok: yes Emma said you were having a terrible day’
‘What? No: no, it’s fine! But we’re not meant to have our mobiles on at work’
‘Ok – make sure you’re not working too hard’
‘I’m not mum, don’t worry!’
‘She’s having fish for dinner’.
‘She told me she was going out.’
‘Must have been a change of plan. Or maybe it’s a fish restaurant. Shall I ask her?’
‘No – I’ll check with Michael. Okay: talk later’
30 secs later: email pings up on my brother’s screen
‘Hi it’s Ruth’
‘Hi how are you?’
‘Ok thanks: but busy. Emma told mum I was working too hard’
‘No! And you know that mum worries’
‘Want me to have a word?’
‘No it doesn’t matter’
‘I’m seeing Dad on Sunday – I’ll let him know you’re just busy.’
‘Ok – talk later’
…and on it goes…Gotta dash: Dad’s on the line.