Before setting out to meet Tigger for lunch, I did what I always do: I picked up my phone and pressed 3. the 3-key is the hot key for London Travel, an invaluable free (except for the cost of the call) service providing recorded voice reports on how the tubes, buses, trains, DLR, river and Tramlink services are running (020 7222 1200).
The familiar display showed that the call has been placed. I put the phone to my ear and waited for the recorded voice to reply. It did not. After trying several numbers and even phoning myself with my other phone (well, one of my other phones, to be precise), I had to accept the sad truth: the sound system had failed. My phone was no longer talking to me.
Even I was surprised at how bereft I felt, but this is not surprising. As I have previously mentioned, my phone (a Nokia 9300 Communicator) performs many essential roles in my life. It is not only a phone but acts as a diary and to-do reminder; it is my alarm clock; it records all the important addresses and phone numbers that I need to remember; it keeps my accounts; it sends and receives text messages; when travelling, I write my blog on it. Lost without it? You bet.
Fortunately, there is a phone shop across the road which has a repair service. At the risk of being late for lunch I went in and handed them my wounded phone in the hope that I might have pressed a wrong button and the poor thing’s voice could be recovered by a swift application of digital dexterity. Alas, it was not to be. Failure of the speaker system was diagnosed.
Two questions bubbled to the surface of my mind: how much? and how long? “Is it under guarantee?” asked the assistant. “I doubt it,” I said. “I bought it off eBay and don’t know its history.” Clickety-click went the keyboard as the assistant typed in the serial number. Yes, it was still under guarantee for another 6 months. (“Bonus!” said Tigger when I told her later.) “How long?” I quavered again. The assistant thought about and then said, “Um, about two hours.” Oh, joy abounding! Two hours and we shall be reunited and talking to one another again. Gratitude threatened to overwhelm me.
I went to lunch, taking my Blackberry with me. The Blackberry, as you probably know, is a cult phone cum PDA popular in the business community but that’s another story. I took the SIM out of the Nokia, intending to put it in the Blackberry over lunch. In the event, we got chatting, as we usually do, and I never got around to it. Which saved spoiling my lunch, as it happens.
What would have spoilt my lunch was the phone call and subsequent voice mail. I didn’t receive the bad news until I reached the shop, ready to embrace my phone and carry it triumphantly home. It appears that it has to go back to Nokia. “But,” said the assistant consolingly, “there will be a software upgrade. You know how slowly it loads? Well, it will load much faster.”
“How long?” I enquired in a trembling voice. Seven days! It sounded like a prison sentence! It was only after I left the shop that I remembered that all my data (as we now call names and addresses and phone numbers) were on the phone. I had backed it all up onto the data card, having been warned that software upgrades may cause loss of data, but the card was still in the phone.
There is of course a phone book on the Blackberry but it is out of date. There is another one on the PC but I am not sure whether it has all the latest additions and corrections. Let’s hope the memory card returns unscathed.