When we left the UK to move to Germany I kept my English mobile. I had been with the same network for many years, although they became T-Mobile instead of One2One (the only low-cost alternative at the time).
I had joined One2One in the days when they still had sales reps who made home visits to convince you to buy their services. In this case a young woman came to my flat one evening. I was living on my own at that time, and I have thought many times how inappropriate and unacceptable that would have been today. No company would send a young female rep on her own to an unknown man's flat at night time these days; that would be irresponsible company behaviour. But this happened in the late eighties and was not considered a problem.
Sometime after the move to Germany I thought it would be best to have a German mobile, which obviously would cut down on costs. As I was considering this, my son and partner gave me an old (Swedish) phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM card, which would save both caller and receiver money when we were in Sweden. (Otherwise they would have to pay for calling the UK and I for transferring the call from the UK to Sweden!)
The phone was an old Sony Ericsson, which had seen its heyday. Often it was impossible to scroll up in a menu, because of a worn-out button. So I had to go back one level and start all over again. But OK, I could live with that.
Then it struck me that I could get a German SIM card and use that with the Swedish Sony Ericsson. Yeah! But NO! It just would not work. That's when I learned about how telecoms lock their phones to their networks. What to do?
I think I did a bit of googling and came across the phenomenon of unlocking the phones via the internet, to free them of their crippling chains. I used the service of mobileunlocked.com , and for a modest fee they liberated the handset. So, now I could use two different cards for two different countries in the same old knackered phone. Brilliant!
But I still had my old English one. One day I needed to ring their customer service regarding some matter or other, and to my great surprise the lady asked me would I want to upgrade my phone. Upgrade my phone? Yes, have a new one. I can see that you are out of contract and have not had a new phone, she said.
Then it dawned on me; I had never had a second phone from them, although I had bought one myself years ago, and I had been with them for close to 20 years!
To some younger readers of this blog, that seems a lifetime. How many phones could I have had over the years, I wonder?
So they sent me this spanking new Samsung Z560, with camera and the lot. (Read about it here.) It seemed to be state-of-the-art, but I really only used it when we were in France since we don't have a land line there. Can you see where this is leading? Unlock it, of course, thought I!
Oh no! It had only been on the market for a short time so nobody had had time to create a code to break the lock. Sigh! I had to wait for a long long time, but now, nearly two years later, I have just received the magical code. It took exactly 2 days 13 hours and 16 minutes to create it!
I feel, in my own modest way, slightly ecstatic to have just the one top-of-the-range phone (still, I hope) that allows me to use three different SIM cards for three different countries. And I hope my son will forgive me for saying this; no longer will I feel embarrassed, having to answer a phone call or receiving a text message on the worn and tired old Ericsson in public, but can now proudly flaunt my foldable friend for anyone to see. Does that make me vain or just practical?