Each year we hear about them: the eager, obsessed, die-hard technology fans, so determined to be the first to show off how fast they can text or tweet with the latest iPhone that they take to the streets – literally – for as many as five days before each new release. And now the iPhone 6 has a launch date (9 September), the techies are dusting off their sleeping bags once more.
Oh, how I used to scoff at their desperation, their keenness. “You wouldn’t catch me queuing for anything like that,” I’d smirk, as I walked smugly past the long lines of human commitment to capitalism. And I hadn’t, honest. Until I was pregnant.
It was a cold and rainy October in 2012, made all the more uncomfortable by virtue of the fact that I was carrying a six-month-old baby bump. But before I could say “Facebook”, something inside me snapped – and in addition to freshly squeezed orange juice and salt and vinegar crisps, all that I craved was a brand-new iPhone 4s. But not just any iPhone 4s – it had to be white. And I simply had to have it on the very first day it came out.
There I was, hovering between blooming and wilting, wedged in with the rest of cold and shivering humanity in a line along High Holborn. Eventually, someone in the O2 shop took pity on me and fetched me a plastic chair. And there I sat, in the drizzling rain, without an umbrella, for hours and hours and hours. And then, as it invariably does for those who covet material possessions above sanity, disaster and disappointment struck – they’d run out of white iPhone 4’s and they ONLY HAD BLACK LEFT.
I’ll admit it, I cried. I waddled home to lick my wounds, but I didn’t learn any lessons, for I awoke the next day with renewed ardour and an almost terrifying sense of determination. I wasn’t going to let them beat me. So, undaunted, I changed tack and headed for Oxford Street.
And there, in the middle of high street commercialism and ‘I Love London’ memorabilia, I found my salvation. A wonderful security guard at the O2 shop took one look at my swollen belly, shook his head in pity and let me in at the front of the queue. I know, I know. And I’m sorry. But don’t hate the player, hate the game. And if you can’t do that, then at least blame the pregnancy hormones.
I’ve not done anything like it since, and proof of my momentary madness lies in the fact that I’ve still got the same, slightly dulled and battered white iPhone 4s, two years later, with its smashed screen and damaged camera lens. But at least I no longer judge those who queue. I just won't be joining them when the iPhone 6 comes out.