Having spent hours on the O2 website trying and failing miserably to work out which tariff would be the best for me and what it would cost, how many free minutes here and smses there and so on and so forth, I decided to pop into the local O2 shop instead and see if a human could enlighten me.
I put my faithful old mobile down on the counter and said I wanted a new tariff.
The human didn't reply - he was too busy staring in wonder or perhaps disbelief at my mobile (ok, it was disbelief). Yes, it is old and yes, you can't see the numbers any more and yes I do need a fair amount of guesswork when I am writing an sms (I find it's best not to look or even think about where the letters may be - my fingers seem to know by themselves, if I don't interfere).
Rousing himself, the human asked me what tariff I had at the moment.
I said, "O2 Select".
If he thought that my mobile had been one of a pair which had been invited on board the ark, he clearly felt that my tariff extended back to one Planck length after the Big Bang.
It seems that O2 Select is ancient, it predates O2 even.
Anyway, I now have no basic monthly fee and only pay for the calls I make. Walking back through the pale March sunshine I was looking at how many people were carrying on conversations on their mobile phones. How many of these conversations were really necessary and how many consisted of people basically just telling each other where they were at that moment and when they would be somewhere else?
I remember as a kid hearing some cynic say that one day they will charge us for the air that we breathe and although we haven't yet got to that point, they do seem at least to have found a way to charge us for our hot air.