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Irrational hatred of...
Cellular communication
By Matt Ballantine
After many months of declaring "Why should I want head cancer?" I have finally succumbed to the new-fangled modern lifestyle accessory of the cellular phone. Now don't get me wrong, I'm no luddite. I generally have a healthy disdain for "gadgets", but will always make as much use as possible of whatever useful technology I can get my hands on. I earn my wage through web page programming, I couldn't leave the house without my PalmPilot, and I enjoy nothing better than whiling away the hours composing in my MIDI home studio. I have, however, never been able to reliably set a video.

And so, after one evening too many of dashing around London from payphone to payphone, I have taken the plunge and signed up to Orange. The diddy little mobile that I now possess lasts ten days between charges, will store hundreds of phone numbers, has over forty ring tones (of which at least thirty will be guaranteed to make me look a pratt in public areas), can transmit and receive short text messages, has a choice of three "entertaining" games, and even has an Infra-Red transmitter. I have, however, yet been able to make my phone set the video.

Sat chatting with Chris at the Bradford game, he suggested what a great idea it would be if my phone could let me know when goals were scored at away games. Now I had already managed to send text messages to the device through the Orange web site, but here at last was a very credible application for the features of SMS.

"Yeah, it probably could be done," I said.

Yesterday, I was having a quick flick through the Orange web site and stumbled upon their Text Services. With just a few simple key-presses it appeared possible to be wired with the latest information on World News, Stock Prices, the Weather or, my interest rose, football scores. Scrolling through the list, to my delight, there was Watford. Now I know that we were only in the nether regions of the Football League for two years, but I am still enjoying the novelty of the media coverage which is associated with League Division One.

At 7.40pm, standing on the Eastbound platform at Highbury and Islington station, I sent the request for latest updates in preparation for the kick-off at the Stadium of Light. A beep confirmed that the request had been accepted. I was ready to "watch" my first game in this new, portable medium.

At 7.56pm, as I was fumbling with my keys to unlock my front door, I heard a beep from my phone. Not already. Please don't say that Sunderland have scored already... (As you can tell, I had a lot of confidence going into this one). I took my time getting into the house, and once the door was shut behind me I pressed the appropriate keys on the Nokia to bring up the news that:


Irritating small LCD display crap. Honestly. Another button press:

"FORD 1 (SMART 11)"

Oh joy! Oh delirium! Bloody hell! I phoned Chris to let him know the good news. He knew already, he was listening to Capital Gold.

I ran upstairs to break the news to Dan, one of my housemates. He was distinctly unimpressed (well, he is a Pompey fan). I sat down in the living room, put on a CD, and stared at the phone. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Watching a game on a mobile phone is even less entertaining than watching it on Ceefax. At least with Ceefax you can switch over and watch the telly.

After a while, Dan came down into the living room and put the radio on. The screeching tones of Jonathan Pearce commentating on some old crap at Palarse. Then he mentioned that there was another goal in Sunderland. My phone beeped. Before I could get through the combination of key presses the radio had already told me that the Roker team had equalised.

I went out to the kitchen - a feeling of dread and an urge for caffeine. Opened the fridge. No milk.

"D'you want anything from the shop Dan?" I shouted out. No response. So off out to the cornershop to get a pint.

As I was walking up our road, I realised that I had left my mobile on the coffee table. I chuckled to myself at the irony of this action - all of this effort to have scores flashed to me whereever I should be, and the minute I left the radio and the teletext and the web on my PC in my house, I left the bloody phone sitting in the living room!

I bought the milk, strolled back home and made some coffee. Going back into the living room I saw that the mobile had become illuminated.

"You're 2-1 down," said Dan.

All I could think of now was that each one of these goals was costing me ten pence (plus VAT). Now of course when the Horns scored this could be further from my mind. I would have paid a tenner for that information. Well, probably not now in the cold light of day, but you know what it's like when we score.

By the end of the evening my experiment into new methods of keeping track of the Golden Boys had left me a little upset. It had told me nothing that I couldn't have found out elsewhere. It had done so in an irritatingly beepy sort of gadgety way. And what's more, I had been financially penalised for the Horns having a bad night. Sixty pence plus VAT!! (five goals plus the final score).

I have thus resolved that, other than for really important away fixtures when I don't have access to a TV or a radio, I'm not going to use the service on a regular basis. And I am going to be extremely grouchy about this evil messenger unless someone can tell me how to make it operate my video.