If I want to use my mobile phone, why do I have to run around threatening murder?

Once I laughed at people on mobile phones; now I use one myself. And has my life improved? Ha!

My dark night of the mobile began last year in Perth, Western Australia, when my wife bought me a nifty Vodaphone-speaking Nokia in a leather case, partly as a birthday present, partly so that I shouldn't be afeared driving her and her mother two thousand miles across the Great Australian Desert in the dry season. With a mobile we'd never be far from help, would we? I still recall the moment, half an hour out of Perth, when the phone first showed the no-coverage sign that it was to go on showing, without so much as a crystalline flicker of apology or hope, for the next 11 days.

Not to worry, though, because on the Nokia you can always play memory games while you're waiting for the flying doctor to find you. Also good for jamming between the teeth of 18-ft crocodiles should you still be there in the wet season, the Nokia.

Then came global roaming. Global roaming is what you do when you take your Australian mobile overseas. I have always seen myself as a bit of a global roamer. A telephonic cowboy, going where the coverage takes me, brave but existentially lonely. Just me and the old palomino, Nokia. Problem is, take a call from a neighbour in Clapham when you're global roaming and it's coming via Australia. And you're paying for the thrill.

When one of my monthly bills came to pounds 500 I began to think twice about the way I was living. I tried arguing, but in order to argue with your Australian bill you have to ring Australia - Sydney via Melbourne, Clapham, the planet Uranus and Melbourne again - as a consequence of which your next monthly bill comes to pounds 700. It was then that I decided to roam no more. I'm here, Vodaphone is here - I just switch my account, right?

Wrong. Vodaphone here doesn't speak to Vodaphone there. In the mobile talk business, I have discovered, no one talks to no one. Not the manufacturer of your phone to the seller of your phone; not the itemiser of your calls to the facilitator of your calls. One little pie, many fat little fingers in it. So who do you go to with a problem? Aha! Who you go to when you have a problem is the Devil.

Two weeks into my new flip-top Ericsson I am barred. Literally. "You are barred," a voice says. Paperwork problem. Whose paperwork? Aha! What you need to do, DX tells me, is take it up with 4U. "But I bought it from you." "Yeah, but we're not the supplier of the service." "If you're not the supplier, how come you supplied me with it." "Nah, we only supply the phone. 4U provides the service."

4U is three blocks down Oxford Street from DX. Handy. Except that 4U won't acknowledge the problem as theirs. "Your agreement is with Singlepoint." "It says on my form that 4U is Singlepoint." "Yeah, but this is just a shop." "So where do I find Singlepoint qua Singlepoint?" "Stoke-on-Trent." "Then please ring them for me." "We can only ring Singlepoint about our customers." "I am your customer." "Nah, you're DX's customer." "So how come I have an agreement with Singlepoint?" "Because you've subscribed to Singlepoint." "Then I am their customer." "No, you bought your phone from DX." "But it's a subscription problem I am having." "Yeah, but we don't deal with subscriptions." "So who does?" "Singlepoint."

It is now I make my address to the other customers, the verdant couples signing up to their first mobiles like expectant parents putting down a deposit on a pram. "A word from the wise!" I shout. "Don't! Buy a mobile phone and you'll wonder what became of that sweet sleep thou owed'st yesterday." Whereupon the staff turn hurt. "That's completely out of order," they complain. Now, I too sometimes watch EastEnders, so I know that "out of order" - art av ordah - is the highest expression of moral outrage available to a Londoner. If I've acted art av ordah I'll either have my house burned or my problem solved. On this occasion I have my problem solved. But not until I've been sent back down Oxford Street to DX with a message from 4U to the effect that they'll be hearing from Reggie in the morning.

And no sooner is the bar lifted than my phone decides to call it a day. It is suffering taedium vitae. Every time I put it down, it turns itself off. Mobile suicide.

"What you want to do," someone at DX tells me, "is take it down to the Carphone Warehouse..."

"The Carphone Warehouse!!"

He doesn't like my repeating what he says. "If you're going to talk to me like that -"

They are sensitive in the matter of how they are talked to, sellers of mobile phones. But not as sensitive as I am in the matter of having been sold a depressed one.

This time I don't shout. This time I do the glare. The one in which my eyes assume the colour and calefaction of Vesuvius, which is the temperature at which mobile phones melt. As a boy I employed this stare to interest girls in me erotically, but it only made them cry. It has the same effect on the staff of DX. Finally I get service. But should one have to spend one's life running up and down Oxford Street, endangering oneself and others, threatening mayhem and murder, merely to enjoy one small advantage of technology?

Don't ask me. I just write the column.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
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.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week