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The Pavement Menance Nov 12

A few weeks ago I wrote about the little old ladies and their amazing ability to take up an entire pavement. Well I have come across another phenomena which has a similar result, but is about 40 years younger. Its the Japanese girl and her mobile. Or more specifically sending email/text messages on her mobile. The first time I actually realized what was happening was when walking out of "The Garden" (Japanese supermarket, equivalent to Waitrose) a young women was walking in front of me at an impossibly slow pace.

How slow? Think mold and how it lives such a breakneck lifestyle. (parties, drugs booze etc) What could possible cause someone with no obvious physical disability, object blocking their path, sun glaring in their eyes, (or other such impediments) from walking at a pace that made 80 year geriatric grandmothers feel sprightly and energetic in there zimmer frames.

Additionally this girl managed to block the entire exit way for anybody who was moving slightly faster than 1 degree above absolute zero Kelvin. Well after doing a quick duck and dive around an obstructing potplant I found the reason. Its called a mobile phone in messaging mode. The UK has taken to sending text messages much the same way as they have taken to European and Australian lagers, (in huge, money guzzling quantities, best enjoyed with friends). A whole lexicon of language has been developed to facilitate the rapid transmission of thoughts via a 12 button keypad. gr8 huh! In fact chavs have taken it to be there own dialect, and we are not going there today.

The Japanese written language however does not lend itself easily to the compression of words to basic forms. (HALT – before someone jumps at me, actually the Japanese written language is the quintessential compression of words, with one Kanji character forming a whole word/concept). However to put these into an electronic device the word must first be spelled out in part Hiragana and then the correct Kanji character selected, end result is the full spelling and correct reading, but just as it would normally be written. It actually quite something to see this being done as fingers are flying all over the keyboard and menus popping up with possible matches of words, the selecting them, then the words moving around again and the next word put in.

Here in lies the problem, such concentration must be given to the creation of a text message that the operator loses all physical awareness of the surroundings until such time as the send button is depressed. Now in sloppy english a misspelled word is often overlooked and many of us will correct it whilst reading. Here a miss spelled word could result in who can imagine what. I wonder how many divorces have occurred because your "Mother in-law is in the car" became your "Mother in-law is a cow".

On Saturday I came across the situation where the girl on the train was engrossed in a message and when we pulled into the station the girl on the opposite side of the door was also engrossed in a message. With eager anticipation I wanted to see what happened when two such improbable objects collided. Alas whilst they remain oblivious to that behind them the "Japanese girl with text message" has evolved to be able to detect on-coming objects. I suppose those that did evolve got wiped out at the pedestrian crossings and that’s Mondays story.

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