Romantic overtures highlight perils of the wrong number


SOMETHING most unusual happened to me the other day – I received a text on my mobile phone.

Very few people ever send me texts, for the simple reason I don’t know my mobile number, and therefore cannot give it out to anyone who asks for it.

Only a select few have the number – I have to ring a family member to ask them what it is in times of emergency – so it was therefore somewhat startling to receive a brief missive at 03.52 declaring: “Morning Babes, I love you xx.”

As Mrs Hextol was slumbering snugly beside me, and her phone was on charge downstairs, I knew it could not be from her, so who was my secret admirer?

Not many people send messages of endearment to portly sexagenarians, so I thought it must be someone returning from a night club and suffering an alcohol-induced texting malfunction.

But at 07.17 my caller was back, bright as a button, to proclaim: “Morning Gorgeous, hope you are feeling better today xxxx – three sleeps left xxx.”

After letting my admirer stew for several hours, I thought it might be appropriate to respond, so I wrote back: “Flattered though I am by your kind thoughts, I suspect you may have the wrong number!”

The response came some 20 minutes later, with an aghast “OMG I am so sorry. One digit wrong – won’t happen again – apologies.”

So my mystery fan disappeared from my life, I thought for good.

But a couple of weeks later, this time in the early afternoon, they were back, with a terse: “Don’t worry, nothing will come back on you!”

This time I responded immediately, vouchsafing that I was relieved my reputation would remain unsullied, before my correspondent came back on with another agonised apology, saying: “Why I type your number I do not know; it won’t happen again,”

And so far it hasn’t, leaving me intrigued as to who the caller was; was it man or woman, young or old?

What was the assignation I missed out on, and what was the problem that might come back to haunt me?

What if some hulking cuckolded husband found the damning texts on his wife’s phone, and somehow managed to work out that it was me she had been calling?

That’s the thing with mobile telephones; to me the world of i-phones, androids and double dongles is as mysterious as that of Phobos, one of the two moons circling the red planet Mars.

I have never had a mobile phone which has truly been my own, and indeed have taken much persuading to accept the cast-offs of Mrs Hextol when she upgrades to a newer, and allegedly better, model.

You will not find me sitting rudely silent in company, thumbs flashing and lips moving, eyes fixed on that little screen as though my life depended on it.

I prefer to converse with people face to face, rather than by remote control.

I have absolutely no idea what my mobile number is, and on the odd occasion it does ring, by the time I have found it, and jabbed feebly at the screen, the person on the other end has rung off.

That is, of course, if I hear it ringing at all, because my failing ears cannot pick up its shrill tone.

I was once nursing a pint in a local hostelry when a testy fellow jabbed me quite forcefully in the chest and demanded: “Will you answer that bloody phone in your pocket? It’s been ringing for at least five minutes, and it’s driving everyone nuts!”

I had been dimly aware of a distant tinkling sound, but I had assumed it was coming from the fruit machine I was standing beside.

I was wearing my multi-pocketed fishing coat and had to rummage through most of them, finding gloves, many yards of nylon, a permit to fish at Kielder in 1984 and a Grey Dunn Caramel Wafer with bits of beetroot clinging to it from a long forgotten picnic, before the ringing stopped.

I never did find out who was so keen to contact me, which is perhaps just as well, as I would probably have cut them off anyway,

It’s not only taking calls that causes problems – if I have to make a call, I need a grandchild or two on hand to advise on which buttons to press, how to hold the phone, and how to avoid ending the call with my chin or left ear.

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