IT’S just over a year since I got myself a proper mobile phone to replace the pay as you go device which was handed down to me by Mrs Hextol somewhere round the turn of the Millennium.

I scarcely looked at the old machine in all the years I had it, because all you could do with it was make and receive telephone calls, and send texts (well I think there was a texting mode, but I never actually sent or received a message).

It didn’t take photographs, selfies or otherwise, it did not offer access to the internet, and Bluetooth remained a dental abnormality sported by witches.

It was exceedingly cheap to run, with a £10 payment in January having only diminished to £8.47 by the following December.

I was quite happy with this state of affairs, as I had all the internet access I needed on my trusty PC, on which I could play Scrabble with people all over the world, log on to my internet banking, and make jigsaws out of family photographs.

However, my PC had been misbehaving for some time, and was taking almost as long to warm up as an Emperor Penguin after nursing an egg on its feet throughout an Antarctic winter.

Even when up and running, it was turning somewhat temperamental going into sulky silences for long periods, and occasionally coming on at full volume in the early hours of the morning.

All that changed when Mrs Hextol dragged me into a phone shop in Hexham, and I found myself the proud owner of an all singing and all dancing modern phone, with which I could take pictures of myself and others, play Scrabble and other less esoteric games like Candy Crush, and keep up to date with football and cricket scores.

I can also point it at the sky, and know that the distant vapour trail 41,000 feet above Bellingham is a Lufthansa flight from Frankfort to Chicago. Now that’s clever.

Getting the phone was almost as big an experience as getting our first television set in 1959, which meant we no longer had to stand in an obliging neighbour’s garden and watch Rin Tin Tin and The Range Rider through his front room window.

Our new set was the size of a wardrobe, and the entire family used to sit around it in a semi-circle for hours, transfixed by nothing more exciting than the test card.

There were no programmes during the day, but we were glued to the set in the evening to see Courtney Jones and Doreen Denny winning the 1959 word ice dancing championship.

Having my new phone brought it all back, and I was soon happily exploring its many features, signing up to Facebook, taking lots of photographs and dazzling everyone with the handy toy feature.

The early photographs were not quite exhibition standard, as they tended to be close ups of my puzzled face as I tried to take a portrait of the dog, and I once recorded a 20 minute video of the inside of my pocket.

As for the prime purpose of the phone, taking calls, I am still physically unable to answer them without a major operation, and castigation from Mrs Hextol.

When a call comes in, a little green phone lights up and a merry tune tinkles out, but no matter how heavily I press that symbol, and vigorously swipe the screen, the tinkling goes on until the caller gets fed up.

Occasionally, I follow the same procedure, and am put straight through, but it’s usually Alice from Amazon telling me in order to abort by suspect purchase of an Iphone for £1,600, I have to press the one button.

I always take the phone when I am walking the dog, and am frequently lambasted by Mrs Hextol on my return.

“Why didn’t you answer the phone? I rang you three times when you were out to tell you to hurry up as we’re going out.” she will rage.

“It never rang, sweetness” I will reply in all honesty, upon which she will snatch the phone from my grasp and say in exasperation: “It’s because you’ve got it on silent!”

There are many things about the device I still don’t understand.

I tend to get notes from total strangers accepting my friend requests, or hurt inquiries from family members as to why I have put an angry face on their video of a grandchild dancing,