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
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
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.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot