‘Being John Malkovich’ earphones.

My old earphones broke the other day so I started shopping for a new pair. Ever the informed consumer, I decided to check out review sites and Amazon and suchlike.

A pair that received glowing reviews all round was a brand I’d never heard of: Exspect. Not a great name – probably just a front for some massive Chinese factory churning out white label brown goods for next to nothing.

Well they were cheap and when I got to HMV they’d knocked a fiver off. £10 for a pair of in-ear isolating earphones with in-line volume and inter-changeable metal bits to match one’s iPod.

Wow - I forgot Cameron Diaz was in BJM.

I have to agree with the other reviewers, even disregarding the absurdly low price, they’re pretty solid.

What does take a bit of getting used to is just how isolating the sound is. Not only does it block out all extraneous noise, it also envelopes you in your own little bubble of you-ness. What I mean is, when I’m between songs I can hear everything my body’s doing a hundred-fold. Breathing, coughing, talking, heart-beating – it all sounds just like I’ve crawled down a small passage and fallen into John Malkovich’s head.


Simple person with an iPhone.

A reconstruction.

So here I am, typing this “live” on the train looking straight at the person I’m writing about.

Here’s the thing. Everything about this chap says there’s something ‘not quite right’ – as judgmental and cosily conceited as that may be.

1. The Rainman shuffle as he gets on the train.

2. He sits next to a woman he doesn’t know despite the fact there are loads of empty double seats available to him. Human nature being what it is – especially on the Friday commute home – you’d want a bit of space to yourself if it’s available. Hence the surprised look on the face of the woman he sat next to.

3. He’s clutching an unopened double-pack of mini pork pies and has been ever since he got on – as though he hasn’t noticed they’re there..

4. When he uses his mobile phone, he holds it very awkwardly with fingers akimbo as though he doesn’t have full muscular control.

5. When he talks into his phone, he’s unnaturally loud – enough to draw a startled look from the woman knitting across the aisle from him.

6. Blank stare and bed-hair.

But for all the above, the one thing that flies in the face it all is the fact that the mobile phone in his non-pork-pie-hand is an iPhone.

Stereotypes come into being largely through truisms and genuine patterns of behaviour.

The received (and expensively marketed) wisdom is that iPhones are cool, they do cool things and they’re for cool people.

There’s no doubt there’s an anomaly here. So is he ‘normal’ despite all the evidence otherwise? Or can someone ‘simple’ (insert politically/medically correct term here) want, need and successfully operate an iPhone?

He’s now leaning over intently staring at the woman who’s knitting.

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