The Sony Goldfish


Here’s yesterday’s Sunday Times Column, coming at you live from the blog. I may lose the odd cell phone on occassion, but at least I’ve never lost one inside a cow.

Hope you enjoy, and have a great week.


WHAT did we do before we had cellphones? I tell you what we did; we lost a hell of a lot fewer cellphones, that’s what.

I lost mine in December, along with any digit that ever meant anything to me. Having reverted to the number-memory capacity of a squid ever since cellphones came along, I can barely remember my own phone number, let alone those of everyone else I know. Don’t feel too sorry for me, I was a little tipsy when I lost it and there’s no sympathy for self-inflicted pain.

I couldn’t find a lot of local statistics, but to give you an idea, Americans lost well over $30-billion worth of cellphones last year. hat’s the equivalent of five Nkandlas, two SAA bail-outs and a Kenny Kunene party

This number is made up of the lost, the liberated and the simply broken. In the UK last year dogs chewed their way through more than 60 000 handsets. While 116 000 of them did the spin cycle with the rest of the dirty laundry. A farmer in Devon claimed he damaged his iPhone by accidentally inserting it into the rear end of one of his cows. As one does.

He says he was trying to help the cow give birth at the time. Not having ever given birth to anything bigger than this column myself, I’m probably not the best person to give advice, but I’m almost positive that at that point in the process, things are supposed to be coming out of that hole, not going in. He was using the cellphone as a torch, or so he says. They should have just called his number (if, unlike me, he could remember it) — that baby calf would have got such a fright at the loud ringing sound, it would have propelled itself directly out of its mother at speed. Birthing problem solved.

The torch function isn’t the only built-in convenience on cellphones that gets us into trouble. I also came across an extraordinary number of claims from women who damaged their cellphones while attempting to use them as sex toys. We were just discussing how there are fewer men out there to date in this very column a few weeks ago, and this must surely be a side effect.
In another insurance claim, a woman says she baked her Nokia 6303 into a sponge cake she was making for her daughter’s birthday. And a 40-year-old construction worker had his cellphone in his back pocket when he went to the toilet and somehow managed to flush it. I’ve heard of a number one and a number two, but this was a number 082.
In 2007 more than 850 000 cellphones were dropped into toilets around Britain. That’s 850 000 swear words uttered. It’s these kinds of statistics that explain why after years of research and development Sony is on the verge of bringing out a waterproof smartphone. Look, you won’t be able to text while you’re deep-sea diving or anything. The Sony Goldfish is only water resistant to a depth of about one metre, and it will work under water for about 30 minutes, but it’s still pretty impressive. It means you will be able to take your cellphone into the shower with you, watch movies in the bath, or rinse it under a tap if it gets dirty. (Bet the guy who shoved his phone up his cow’s bum wishes his phone had that capability.)

Technology is pretty impressive, but I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Most of us are so phone-reliant we take our cells everywhere with us. There are only a handful of places left in this world where people can’t get hold of us anymore. Like in aeroplanes, at the movies, in the shower, on the floor of the ocean, and in the queue at my chemist (no cellphones allowed!!!!) — and now that we have to scratch a few of those peaceful places off that list, privacy is going to be even harder to find.

And the technology is only going to get better and better. So if you call me in a couple of years and I don’t answer, it’s either because I’m in outer space, or inside a cow.

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