My daughter wants an iphone. I am Against it. I tell her lamely that it's too expensive. She says she'll pay for it with her £1 a week pocket money. I tell her she's only nine years old and I was 35 when I got my first mobile. She says she's the Only One in her class without one and that even the French teacher illustrated conjugation with the assumption that 'We all love our iphones'.
I pause. I'm not why sure why I am so viscerally dismayed by the notion. Probably it's to do with my instinct that anything that wasn't around in the 1970s is unnecessary to child development. Which is why my children can feast unfettered on Iced Gems, but I have vigorous prejudices against Haribous.
We put on a DVD of The Railway Children (1970) and my intolerance suddenly crystalises. 'See that!' I say jabbing zestfully at Roberta's tumbling hair. My daughter stares at me, anxious. I tell her about the sacred rituals of Coming of Age: how maturity in more ordered eras was marked by the putting up of girls' hair and letting down of their hems. 'Now,' I conclude, 'the only milestone in adolescence is a diptheria booster.'
I can see enlightenment dawning. 'The day you start secondary school you can walk there on your own for the first time with your first, brand new mobile in your pocket and you'll be 11 years old and feel 10 ft tall.'
My daughter nods. 'I think I like that idea.' There's a pause. 'So can I save up for a Blackberry?'