`Hello darling, I'm on the train'

I HAVE just bought something I said I never would. I said the same about a computer. Still haven't got one, managing with my cheapo Amstrad PCW 9512, now an antique, on which I have shifted a million words. The machine is an antique, not the words. They are always new. Or newish, or newishly arranged.

I love my Amstrad. Why would I want anything more sophisticated, full of fancy facilities, filled with rubbish like the Internet, which I don't need and will only go wrong and be hellish to understand? Daft, I call it.

I said the same about video. Why would I want to copy TV programmes when I don't watch television anyway? Except for football. Then came the avalanche of live matches, masses of them, arriving in droves, from all directions, sometime up to four at a time, so naturally I had to get a VCR to pin down and capture the ones I had to miss. I now love my video.

I thought faxes were dopey, when they first came in. What's wrong with the post? No need for all that faffing around. Then the post started getting worse and worse. The service in 1999 is now about 10 times less frequent, 50 times less reliable than it was in 1899. So I have a fax.

But no, I told myself, I will never, ever, no way, get a mobile phone. They are for poseurs, drug dealers, yuppies and the insecure young who feel they need to be constantly in touch in case they might miss something exciting. "Hi, what are you doing?" "Oh nothing really." "Yeah, same here."

Once you get over 35, you know you are missing nothing. What you want is not to be bothered, not rung up, not kept in contact. You know from experience that the contact is likely to be either annoying or boring.

This was until last week. I had gone to rural Cheshire to meet Dwight Yorke, the Man Utd footballer, the one with the nice smile and a whole host of medals lined up, possibly. I got a taxi from the station to his address, could see his security gates, about as big and impressive as the ones at Downing Street - but then he is better known throughout the world than Tony, and richer.

I could see a little entry phone thing, so I paid off the taxi and let it go. What a mistake. After all these decades of interviewing people I should know the first rule of hackery: never let the cab go till you see the whites of the victim's eyes.

I went to the intercom thing and pressed it. Not a sound. There was a mass of figures and letters. I then realised I needed a security code before I could even speak into the intercom. Oh no.

I stared through the gates down the long driveway. I could tee a Mercedes, a Range Rover and a Ford outside his triple garage. No sign of his Ferrari. Was he still at training? Had he totally forgotten?

The tree-lined line road was deserted, this being stockbroker Cheshire in mid-afternoon. A woman with a dog appeared and I asked where the nearest public phone box. "A phone box?" she replied. Or did she say, "A handbag?" Anyway she hurried on.

As I stood, the heavens opened and my white suit got absolutely soaked. Martin Bell was in bed that day, so I'd borrowed it, wanting to look smart for my first meeting with Dwight. I know footballers. They tend to judge strangers by the size of their wallet, their clothes, their car.

I had Dwight's phone number, but couldn't ring him to tell him to open the bloody gates. I walked to a crossroads and stopped an elderly gent and asked if by chance he had a portable phone. He looked alarmed, as if I was trying to sell him drugs or Cup Final tickets.

I then saw a signpost to a stately home, half a mile away, so I ran there. There was a caff but no public phone. I asked the waitress if I could use their phone.

"Is it an emergency?" she asked.So I explained.

"Oh that's OK then. I thought it might be an accident, or someone giving birth, that sort of emergency, cause we're just closing."

I rang Dwight, then ran back to his mansion and he opened up. I'd lost 40 minutes of my life and got myself in a muck sweat. That's when I vowed to give in.

Next day I bought a mobile phone at Carphone Warehouse in Hampstead - pounds 79.99 a year, all in, no rental. If I never use it, it won't cost me another penny. If I ring out, it's 40p at peak time but I get 250 minutes free otherwise.

I've had it two days now. Still can't understand half the features, but getting on the train next day I felt awfully grown up. I plonked it on the table in front of me, as one does, like cowboys at a bar putting down their pistols. Once we set off from Euston, I rang my wife and spoke the immortal words: "I'm on the train..."

I've joined the modern age.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk