It’s Friday night, and Mrs Bigmouth and I are in a bar with friends. I’m heading outside for a smoke, and as I get my cigarettes out of my jacket I realise that my phone isn’t there.
“I’ve lost my phone,” I tell Mrs B.
“Did you bring it out with you?”
“It’s probably in the car, then.”
“You’re right. It’s fallen out of my jacket in the car. I’ll look later.”
An hour or so later, we’re heading home. As we get in the car – me pissed, Mrs B. sober and shattered – I make her wait for ten minutes as I check every inch of the car for my missing mobile.
“It’s not in the car,” I say, eventually.
“It’s probably still in the house, then,” Mrs B says, preparing to drive away.
“Hang on! It might have fallen out when I got out of the car!” I say, hurling myself out of the passenger seat and checking underneath the car for my mobile. It isn’t there. I get in and we go home.
Half an hour later, we’re home. I’m wielding the house phone, redialling my mobile.
“It’s not in the house,” I say. “I’d hear it ring, and it’s definitely ringing, and I can’t hear it ringing. So it isn’t here.”
“Are you sure it’s not in the car?”
“Yes. But I’ll check anyway.”
I sit in the car, redialling the mobile, ear cocked for the tell-tale sound of the ringer. No sound in the car.
“Maybe it’s in the pub after all,” I decide. “I’ll call in the morning.”
I call the pub at 9am. No reply. 9.10am. No reply. 9.30am. 10am. 10.03am. Finally at 10.30am a pissed off-sounding cleaner answers. No, she won’t have a look for me. Call back when the staff are there, at noon.
I call my mobile another dozen times in the hope someone will answer it. I check the car again. No joy. I mentally retrace my movements from the night before. Hang on – I filled up the car before we went into town. The phone must have fallen out then.
I jump in the car, drive to the petrol station, ask whether the phone has been handed in. No. I go back out and peer at the ground around last night’s petrol pump. Nothing. I call my mobile a few times on the off chance I’ll hear it ring. Nothing. I drive home again.
I call the pub at 12.01. No, nothing’s been handed in. Leave your number, though, and we’ll call you if it turns up. I do.
Inspiration strikes. My phone’s definitely on! That means it’s registered with cell networks, and if it’s in town it’s easy to locate! I call O2.
“When my phone’s on, it registers with base stations, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, it does.”
“So you can tell me where it is?”
“Well, we can tell you where it was when it was last used.”
“Yeah, but you can get its location by triangulation, can’t you? That’s why the police always ask kidnappers to turn on their phone!”
“Can you do that? For me? Now?”
“Sorry, sir. We can’t. We don’t get that data for two or three days.”
Two or three days? I make a mental note: don’t get kidnapped.
“We can tell you when and where it was last used to make a call, though.”
My phone was last used the day before, in my home town, by me. Damn.
“If my phone is really lost, how much would a replacement be?”
£208 plus VAT. Damn.
I call the mobile a few more times in the afternoon, and then persuade Mrs B that we need to revisit last night’s bar. So we drive into town. I ask the bar staff if the phone’s been handed in. No. Is it OK if we go look? Yes. I come up with a clever plan. I’ll dial the mobile and Mrs B and I will listen for it. No luck. No ringing.
There’s a couple having a romantic drink in the corner we’d sat in last night. We go over, apologise for bothering them, ask them to move. Mrs B digs around the back of the seat to see if the phone’s there. I’m ringing the number and listening for a sound. The woman is being really helpful and digs around underneath the nearby bar stools. She doesn’t find anything and gets up, smacking the back of her head on the stool. It’s a very solid stool, made from a very solid bit of wood. She’s moving very quickly. There’s a very loud noise.
“Oh dear,” she says, her eyeballs rotating in their sockets.
“That was sore,” she adds, wobbling in her seat and turning very white.
“Are you okay?” Mrs B asks her, trying very hard not to laugh.
“Yes,” says the woman, as a lump grows Pinocchio-style on the back of her head. She’s clearly concussed.
“I don’t think the phone’s here,” I say. “We should probably go.”
Mrs B is going a funny colour as she fights against the giggles.
On the way back to the car I call the mobile a few more times, scanning the gutter for the tell-tale lights of a ringing mobile. Nothing. As we pull out of the parking space we see the couple from the bar. She’s rubbing her head and talking animatedly. She’s swaying a bit. I don’t think it’s because of booze.
We drive home. “Hang on!” I say. “I moved your parents’ car last night!” We pull into the driveway and peer through the window of their car. Between the front seats there’s a silvery gleam. It’s my mobile.
Mrs B gives me a look.
“Well,” she says. “At least nobody got hurt.”