Real life

My podgy thumbs will never be iPhone-compatible

Which is why I’ve been hoarding BlackBerrys (I reckon 25 will see me to the grave)

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

You can’t always get what you want. And you can never get what you want if you want a phone with buttons. I’ve been nursing along an old BlackBerry. Well, I’ve been nursing a drawer full of old BlackBerrys. I began stockpiling them when the company started to nosedive and I realised I would soon be at the mercy of a touchscreen, trying to make my thumbs iPhone compatible.

I don’t want to hear anyone tell me it will all become easier when I get used to it. My podgy hands will never reinvent themselves as precision speed-pokers, capable of pinpoint accuracy on a typepad of minute characters of such insane sensitivity that a syringe used to inject sperm into ovaries would have trouble hitting the right letter.

It is said that if you gave a roomful of monkeys on typewriters long enough they would come up with the works of Shakespeare. Well, if you left me on an iPhone long enough I would come up with every book ever written and the entire contents of Stephen Hawking’s brain.

I just typed the opening sentences of this column into my iPhone and this is what came out: ‘Obi can’t ally gay what you want and foi xmas shay you anat Id what you am at morn ax pcpne with buttons.’

And that’s with predictive text. I’m not the only one. My friends increasingly text me complete nonsense on their so-called smartphones. The other day a horse-riding pal asked if I fancied going ‘on a little baldy’. I think he was suggesting a hack on Ranmore Common but hey, maybe we should go to Little Baldy mountain trail in Sequoia National Park, California, see what happens.


Maybe in the future, people will do all sorts of crazy things because predictive text is telling them to. All I know for certain is that every time I try to compose a sentence on my iPhone, my patience shreds itself instantly and in two seconds flat I want to throw myself out the window. And no, I don’t want to ‘just press the microphone icon’ and use voice texting. I’m not going to end up a basket case barking: ‘I’m five minutes away I’m five min-its a waaaay!’ while the phone types ‘Mime pie in Uruguay!’

I want buttons. I want them. I just goddam want them, alright? All this choice we supposedly have and yet you go into a shop and ask for a phone with buttons and the answer is: you’ve got to have one of the 27 phones on display, all of them completely identical. WITH NO BUTTONS!

Let’s face it. The traditional BlackBerry was the apex of mobile phone achievement. It always had a signal, always rang. And to type on, it was very bliss. But oh no, the BlackBerry corporation wasn’t happy with 100 per cent customer satisfaction. It had to start producing rubbish phones nobody liked which didn’t have any BUTTONS!

Since then, as well as grudgingly buying an iPhone I never use, I’ve stockpiled those old BlackBerrys I mentioned in a desperate bid to accumulate a lifetime’s supply. While J. Alfred Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons, I reckoned on needing 25 BlackBerrys to see me into my grave, assuming one breakage every two years, and me not going on beyond the age of 93, which I wouldn’t want to anyway, with or without buttons.

My figures might be a bit off, though, because this week a very nice white 9900 came a cropper on the stone tiles in my hallway after I had had it only six months. It was still working slightly, but the battery wouldn’t hold a charge. So I opened the left-hand drawer of my writing desk where the precious spare BlackBerrys are stockpiled and opted for a vintage Curve, once the builder boyfriend’s kid sister’s until she dumped it in favour of a touchscreen she could stab at with her nimble little mutated digi-paws.

However, I then made a classic error. Whenever I break a phone, I get Andy the tech guy to swap my Sim card into the new one. This time, stupidly, I decided to transfer the Sim myself. I prised the back off the 9900, took the Sim out, put it into the Curve and switched on.

But the Curve wanted me to enter a code. What code, I could not possibly know. So I took the Sim out and put it back into the 9900, but then the 9900 wanted a password. What password, I couldn’t begin to imagine.

And then I realised. Andy’s number was in the 9900, and only in the 9900, which would not now switch on. In desperate straits, I grabbed my iPhone and texted a friend who might have his number: ‘Halo! I need Anaya’s miner really urns nif!’

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  • davidshort10

    Try using a proper keyboard on a MacBook Air instead.

    • Callipygian

      I don’t know why anyone would try to type on a Smartphone. I’ve been a touch-typist since I was 17 and I require an actual keyboard. Saves hours of labour and is much nicer to use.

      Also, I don’t get this about Sim cards. We must not use them in America. We have no time for that sort of rubbish. We have Obama, and that’s more than enough.

      • Damaris Tighe

        I agree – I touch type & must have a proper keyboard. I use a Chromebook at home & an old fashioned key phone for voice calls when I’m out. It always amazes me how totalitarian the so-called market is in practice, providing very little choice & over-producing each new fad. In fact, the market dictates to the consumer rather than vice versa.

        The same applies to food in the UK – it’s very difficult to find formerly plain food that hasn’t been ruined by black pepper or chilli, because someone has decided that the British public now like their food spicy.

        • Callipygian

          Interesting comment. I know what you mean about technology: I’m hanging onto my ordinary small flip mobile (until it dies, and maybe I’ll keep it as a memento of a more primitive age!) because the upgrade from it is a smartphone which is really more than I want, and is too large.

          As a spice addict I’d probably love the food you wish were plain! But I do see your point.

          • Damaris Tighe

            I love spicy food too (I make my own curries). But many traditional foods aren’t meant to be highly spiced & are best enjoyed au naturel.

          • Callipygian

            Ah, right. I bet your curries are delicious!

          • Damaris Tighe

            They were better when I could be *rsed to grind the spices from scratch! Now I just use the pastes – spices taste fresher when preserved in oil, rather than dry.

          • Callipygian

            You and my hubby could compare notes. He’s a curry cook, himself. I am merely the washer-upper and the grateful taste buds : )

          • Damaris Tighe

            Tell your hubs that the best curry recipe I’ve ever tried is Madrasi Lamb Curry with Potatoes in an American cookbook he may still be able to get hold of 2nd hand: ‘Feasts for all Seasons’ by Roy Andries de Groot. It’s a bit complicated but out of this world.

          • Callipygian

            Fabulous! I shall look it up. If it’s available it could be his birthday present….

          • Damaris Tighe

            Well worth it – it’s a fantastic cook book in general. It taught me how to cook a genuine coq au vin – & it was also where I got the tip on Bovril from!

          • Callipygian

            A-ha! I still haven’t been able to get myself the beefy Bovril (or any). We can get Marmite in this country quite easily now, but Bovril seems to be holding out, along with Jacob’s Cornish Wafers. We can get the Cream Crackers but not the Cornish Wafers. I have no idea why.

      • James Bolivar DiGriz

        “Also, I don’t get this about Sim cards. We must not use them in America.”

        I see that you have never looked inside a mobile phone. A SIM card is a mandatory part of any phone using the GSM standard, which means c.90% of all the world’s phones.

        • Callipygian

          Well we don’t replace them or exchange them or anything. Are you sure there are sim cards in smartphones?

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “Well we don’t replace them or exchange them or anything”
            I think that you mean that you personally have not done that. I doubt that you are in position to speak for the entire US population.

            What do you, personally, do when you get a new mobile or change network?

            “Are you sure there are sim cards in smartphones?”
            Why would you think that a (so called) smartphone is any different from any older mobile?

            When any phone leaves the factory it cannot do anything as it is not connected to a mobile phone network. In order to connect to a network it needs something that will identify it, so that the network knows which phone it is (i.e. the number) and who it belongs to (for billing).

            That is supplied by the SIM. The same mobile will work on, say, the ATT & Sprint networks but to be able those two it needs an appropriate SIM.

          • Callipygian

            Sure, maybe. But we do use different technology from you sometimes. I didn’t say the smartphone works by magic, did I?

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            “Sure, maybe.”
            What is that supposed to mean?

            “I didn’t say the smartphone works by magic, did I?”
            Getting close to it. There was not one day that everyone had older mobiles and then the next day that everyone had smartphones. There was, and still is, an overlap.

            So smartphones work on the same networks as older mobiles and will use the same technologies.

            As you have not bothered to answer any of my questions nor to take the back off your mobile I assume that you don’t want to educate yourself and will stop now.

  • F. Hugh Eveleigh

    Ah, Miss Kite. You are always a good read but today you excelled and left me guffawing in my arm chair. The final words, ‘really urns nix’ will remain with me for some time.

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