DUNCAN BARKES Cut off from life when your mobile loses its connection

I have often wondered if we rely too much on mobile telephones. I even used to mock those who panicked if they discovered they had left home without one.

But sadly I have concluded it is almost impossible to survive life in the 21st century without a mobile phone.

My network provider is O2 and due to a technical problem last week my mobile was defunct; I was unable to make or receive calls, send or receive text messages and emails or surf the web.

The outage lasted from about mid-afternoon to early the following morning.

Being a hardy kind of chap I relished the challenge of life without my mobile for a bit, but soon regretted my cockiness.

I was due in London to help a friend for whom I was going to record the greeting for his company’s telephone system. We had agreed to meet at nine o’clock at night at his office in SE1.

For once the London traffic was bearable, so I arrived with ten minutes to spare. I went to send a text to my mate, announcing my arrival.

Ah… So much do I take my mobile for granted that it took a moment for me to realise the flaw in my plan.

Instead I made my way to his office and rang the bell. No reply. Normally I would of course call him, but with no mobile this was not an immediate option.

Remember the days when we used public payphones? I thought this could well be the solution to my predicament, so found a nearby hotel and asked if they had one.

I was informed they did not and that it was also company policy not to let non-guests use their office phone. However the helpful receptionist pointed me in the direction of two public telephone boxes further up the road.

The first one was pretty vile and smelt as you would expect a phone box to stink in the back streets of London. Clearly it had been used as a loo for many years.

At least it was useful for some purpose because its telephone was out or order.

Spotting another phone box I was dismayed to find it only allowed emergency 999 calls. By this point I was pretty frustrated and was cursing not only London, but O2, the country as a whole, and most of the people in it.

I returned to the office entrance and spotted a security guard doing his rounds. He was persuaded to go and find my friend and we finally got down to business.

It transpires my mate had tried to call me several times, but of course could not get through.

Following O2’s network crash a survey has suggested at least a third of its customers are planning to move to another provider.

I can more than understand their frustration but it is not a patch on the realisation that life without a mobile these days is nigh on impossible. It is a sad state of modern affairs.