As I fumbled with menus, trying not to betray my embarrassment, I glimpsed at the man and something in his eyes told me that he knew, somehow, what had happened, but couldn’t snatch the phone off me for fear of embarrassing his girlfriend, who remained oblivious. Eventually I took the photo. His smile was fixed and unconvincing. I handed the device back. She thanked me. He stared at the ground. We went our separate ways in silence. Somehow, it was as if we’d all taken part in a terrible threesome.
This kind of acute personal embarrassment simply wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago. But with our every folly entered into an electronic ledger somewhere, it’s becoming commonplace. Scarcely a week goes by without a leaked nudey phone photo of some hapless celebrity doing the online rounds. Paris, Britney, Rihanna, Miley … eventually we’ll be treated to raunchy snaps of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Vince Cable. Don’t pretend you’ll turn away. You’ll stand and stare like the rest of us.