CHRISTMAS is a comin’, and with it the fat chap with the white beard and sack, delivering gifts for lucky recipients of all ages who will have made their “wish list” known to family, friends, and everyone else within hailing distance. My guess is that the most “wishable” item on many lists will be a new mobile phone, for it has now become painfully obvious, to one particular jaundiced onlooker at least, that civilisation as we know it could not possibly function without this blight on the 21st century.

I have been critical of mobiles in a previous column, but the subsequent time span has seen an alarming increase in their use, so much so that it is now impossible to go anywhere, anytime, without seeing someone talking into one or eagerly texting, and I’m not solely discussing idiots who blatantly ignore the ban on using them while driving.

Now before anyone bothers to contact this publication to point out, forcibly no doubt, that I must be a sad old git to be irritated by people using a mobile, especially as they are causing harm to no-one, nor inconveniencing anyone, unless they are using one while driving. Furthermore, they cannot be accused of doing anything unlawful, unless, of course, they are negotiating the sale or purchase of illegal substances, for which a mobile seems an absolute necessity.

And yes, I am aware that they can mean the difference between life and death following an accident, when it is vital to call emergency services. Similarly, vulnerable youngsters are given one so they can stay in contact with anxious parents when they venture into the world alone, or with fellow adolescents. In such cases, I concede that mobiles have their uses. It’s all the numerous other times that get my goat, when I begin to doubt my own sanity, let alone that of the people involved.

For example, why would anyone wander round a supermarket, yapping into a mobile, waving their free arm about to emphasise a point, as if the person to whom they were talking was standing before them? I’ve lost count of the number of times I have witnessed that scenario. And how about the endless stream of humanity, trundling along, talking into phones, oblivious to events around them. One clown walked virtually under the wheels of my van as I drove up Chorley Old Road and responded with a string of obscenities when I sounded my horn. Luckily for him I always drive at a sedate pace, otherwise we would have been using his damned mobile to summon an ambulance.

The thought has crossed my mind that were L.S. Lowry still around, painting his quaint “matchstalk” images of humanity, the majority would be portrayed with one arm bent, holding a mobile to their ear. That is how daft the situation has become, and the equipment is becoming more and more sophisticated, with, I believe, facilities to take photos, send and receive e-mails, listen to music and God knows what else. The time can’t be far off when they dispense a sandwich on request. Beam me up, Scotty.