You can’t always get what you want. And you can never get what you want if you want a phone with buttons. I’ve been nursing along an old BlackBerry. Well, I’ve been nursing a drawer full of old BlackBerrys. I began stockpiling them when the company started to nosedive and I realised I would soon be at the mercy of a touchscreen, trying to make my thumbs iPhone compatible.
I don’t want to hear anyone tell me it will all become easier when I get used to it. My podgy hands will never reinvent themselves as precision speed-pokers, capable of pinpoint accuracy on a typepad of minute characters of such insane sensitivity that a syringe used to inject sperm into ovaries would have trouble hitting the right letter.
It is said that if you gave a roomful of monkeys on typewriters long enough they would come up with the works of Shakespeare. Well, if you left me on an iPhone long enough I would come up with every book ever written and the entire contents of Stephen Hawking’s brain.
I just typed the opening sentences of this column into my iPhone and this is what came out: ‘Obi can’t ally gay what you want and foi xmas shay you anat Id what you am at morn ax pcpne with buttons.’
And that’s with predictive text. I’m not the only one. My friends increasingly text me complete nonsense on their so-called smartphones. The other day a horse-riding pal asked if I fancied going ‘on a little baldy’. I think he was suggesting a hack on Ranmore Common but hey, maybe we should go to Little Baldy mountain trail in Sequoia National Park, California, see what happens.
Maybe in the future, people will do all sorts of crazy things because predictive text is telling them to. All I know for certain is that every time I try to compose a sentence on my iPhone, my patience shreds itself instantly and in two seconds flat I want to throw myself out the window. And no, I don’t want to ‘just press the microphone icon’ and use voice texting. I’m not going to end up a basket case barking: ‘I’m five minutes away …I’m five min-its …a …waaaay!’ while the phone types ‘Mime pie in Uruguay!’
I want buttons. I want them. I just goddam want them, alright? All this choice we supposedly have and yet you go into a shop and ask for a phone with buttons and the answer is: you’ve got to have one of the 27 phones on display, all of them completely identical. WITH NO BUTTONS!
Let’s face it. The traditional BlackBerry was the apex of mobile phone achievement. It always had a signal, always rang. And to type on, it was very bliss. But oh no, the BlackBerry corporation wasn’t happy with 100 per cent customer satisfaction. It had to start producing rubbish phones nobody liked which didn’t have any BUTTONS!
Since then, as well as grudgingly buying an iPhone I never use, I’ve stockpiled those old BlackBerrys I mentioned in a desperate bid to accumulate a lifetime’s supply. While J. Alfred Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons, I reckoned on needing 25 BlackBerrys to see me into my grave, assuming one breakage every two years, and me not going on beyond the age of 93, which I wouldn’t want to anyway, with or without buttons.
My figures might be a bit off, though, because this week a very nice white 9900 came a cropper on the stone tiles in my hallway after I had had it only six months. It was still working slightly, but the battery wouldn’t hold a charge. So I opened the left-hand drawer of my writing desk where the precious spare BlackBerrys are stockpiled and opted for a vintage Curve, once the builder boyfriend’s kid sister’s until she dumped it in favour of a touchscreen she could stab at with her nimble little mutated digi-paws.
However, I then made a classic error. Whenever I break a phone, I get Andy the tech guy to swap my Sim card into the new one. This time, stupidly, I decided to transfer the Sim myself. I prised the back off the 9900, took the Sim out, put it into the Curve and switched on.
But the Curve wanted me to enter a code. What code, I could not possibly know. So I took the Sim out and put it back into the 9900, but then the 9900 wanted a password. What password, I couldn’t begin to imagine.
And then I realised. Andy’s number was in the 9900, and only in the 9900, which would not now switch on. In desperate straits, I grabbed my iPhone and texted a friend who might have his number: ‘Halo! I need Anaya’s miner really urns nif!’