Hanging up

Rebecca Morice says farewell to an old telephone

The Knowledge

Last month, I bought an iPhone 4. It was my first. And my world is now a very different place. But it didn’t happen easily – I had to be coaxed, cajoled and eventually, with my arm twisted behind my back, marched to the store by colleagues who were sick of indecipherable text messages and unanswered calls. You see, me and my old phone had been having a few problems. A solid black piece of kit, it looked practically indestructible – but it turns out looks can be deceiving. After two years of fairly uneventful use, the cracks started to show – quite literally. Following a few knocks (I’m quite clumsy and live in a tiled environment), it had taken on a rather well-worn look. Sliding it open to make a call one day, I was greeted by nothing but a blank screen. After my initial shock and terror, and once I’d moved through the phase of jabbing angrily at the buttons with the look of a confused gorilla on my face, I identified the fault. Turns out, I could no longer slide my phone all the way open. Okay, never mind. If I slid it partway open and utilised a tool to reach the top row of buttons, I could still make phone calls. That is, of course, until my phone stopped making phone calls. Two weeks later, it just stopped. The call button wouldn’t work. That was it.

Now some might question the merits of a phone that doesn’t make (or, for that matter receive) calls. Some might consider it little more than a shiny paperweight, but those doubters have clearly forgotten about texting.

I love texting, you can bypass all the horrible awkwardness of a phone call and put your thoughts out there only after careful consideration – not like with a call, where you’re basically counting on your brain catching up with your mouth.

So I could still text. At least I thought I could. Turns out that whichever circuit was responsible for the call button was also responsible for the cancel button. It’s like every sub-editor’s worst nightmare – make a mistake and you can’t fix it. You have to either swallow your pride, hit send and hope that whoever’s on the receiving end a) works out that the problem is with your phone rather than your mental capacity, and b) can figure out what you were trying to say, or you have to cancel the whole sorry mess and start from scratch. After a hard few weeks of the latter tactic (typing the same text message four times is deeply, deeply frustrating, it turns out), I switched to the former.

Returning from a restaurant visit, when asked what frogs’ legs tasted like, I replied with ‘angilen angilen chicken and fishfish’, when asking my friend to hurry so we could get to lunch, I typed ‘I’m so hugsy’, and once, instead of goodnight, I wrote conono boozonts. I actually have no idea how that last one happened. But despite the embarrassment and confusion, it’s hard to part with an old phone – this one had heard me laugh, heard me cry, been there for interviews and arrangements, received exciting (and dreadful) messages. No, throwing the darn thing in the bin took some strength. But now I have a brand new phone that can tell me where I am when I’m lost, let me check my email when I’m on the run, and even make and receive calls. But best of all, it has a shiny new case to protect it from the fate of its predecessor. Cutting edge technology indeed.

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