IT’S coming up to year now since I acquired my first new mobile phone of my very own.

Prior to last year, I had to be satisfied with Mrs Hextol’s cast-offs as she moved to bigger and better devices, while I struggled on with my assorted pay as you go museum pieces.

When I first went mobile, I put £10 on the phone, which would last me all year, because I never used it.

I only carried it with me because Mrs Hextol insisted I had to in case she needed to speak to me when I was covering a rugby match at Tynedale Park even though we both knew it was a pretty pointless exercise.

The trouble was, I could never hear it ringing, and someone standing nearby would have to tap me on the shoulder and indicate that that irritating ringing noise was coming from my pocket.

Even then, I often only succeeded in cutting Mrs Hextol off before I could speak to her, and I had no idea how to call her back.

I jabbed aimlessly at buttons, and once managed to get through, only to sour the success by conducting the entire conversation with the phone upside, charting into the earpiece.

My early phones were just that - telephones - with no camera or internet and a method of sending a text so Byzantine as to make translating the Rosetta Stone a toddle in the park.

I would have no truck with mobiles at all, and left all away-from-home telecommunication to Mrs Hextol.

She has been a devotee of mobile phones since they were the size of a breeze block, and required a telescopic aerial to make them work, while I was happy with a landline.

I always felt that getting away from it all was one of key components of a successful holiday, but then Mrs Hextol started bring her phone, so she could spent half the day ringing family and friends at great expense rather than sending a post card.

She was past herself when we did our first Transatlantic cruise, when the ship was completely out of range of all masts and transmitters for five blissful days.

Then she joined all the other phone-aholics on the top deck with their devices held out in front of them like the Statue of Liberty’s torch.

Suddenly, as land loomed on a far horizon and one of them would holler as though in religious fervour: “I’ve got a signal!”

I would then watch with amused tolerance as the messages began to pour in, each more inane than the last, but the recipients acted as though they were receiving the Ten Commandments from the peak of Mount Sinai.

I remained aloof from mobile mania for many years - until one day I discovered I could play Scrabble with people from all over the world while out and about.

I had long been playing the addictive word game on my PC at home, taking on tile enthusiasts from all over the world, and winning significantly more games than I lost against players from all over the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

I had no idea you could play Scrabble and other word games on your mobile, and repaired post haste to an emporium in Hexham to get myself tooled up for the future.

I was soon the proud owner of a slimline phone which not only boasted the internet, and both still and video cameras, but also a little torch.

At least I think it has, but I have never been able to find it since the shop assistant lit it up like the Eddystone Lighthouse.

I soon had the phone linked up to all my Scrabble buddies around the globe, and enjoy playing them at all times of day and night.

However, many of the other multiple uses of the device remain some way beyond my limited capabilities, a particular bugbear being the camera.

I have never been a great one for selfies, but I have managed to take scores of close ups of myself looking perturbed, when all I was trying to do was take a video of a robin having a vigorous dip in the bird bath.

I must also admit to being a little too heavy-handed on the buttons when scrolling through Facebook or other delights of the ether.

One day I might even find that my inadvertent application to join a morris dancing group in Ashby-de-la-Zouch or subscription to the Bob Carolgees fan club magazine have been accepted.