London, July 12:
I was overjoyed to see that Samsung has launched a mobile phone that stops you making calls when youâ€™re drunk. With its so-called â€˜sobriety lock-outâ€™ (not to be confused with the â€˜drunken lock-outâ€™, which is when youâ€™re drunk and you lose your keys), the LP4100 is supposedly aimed at the â€˜hard-living young personâ€™, but I canâ€™t think of anyone who would not benefit.
You and I may never have met, but I will bet my stash of holiday liqueurs that you have made a drunken call in the past six months. And when I say â€˜drunkenâ€™, I do not mean you called your mum to thank her for a cake, and you happened to be a little bit the worse for wear; I mean you rang somebody while drunk and you said things that you wouldnâ€™t have said when you were sober. Before you were drunk, you would not even have made the call; when you were sober again in the morning, you did not think, â€˜Oops!â€™ you thought â€” Iâ€™m sorry, but there it is â€” â€˜Oh shit.â€™
If I were a marketing man in Samsungâ€™s employ, Iâ€™d be working on an ad campaign in the style of the doomed Orange animal balloons, which separated customers into canaries (chatterers), panthers (gadget-lovers) and racoons (skint). Itâ€™s hard to conceive of a drunken animal, which is why teenagers are always trying to feed cider to dogs (ah, the eternal human What If?), but just play letâ€™s-pretend for a second here.
Samsungâ€™s Rhinoceros customer would be your serial drunk; for brevity, Iâ€™ll call him an alcoholic. Before mobile phones were invented, he used to have to piece together his evening by checking the receipts in his pocket. This â€˜hard-living not young personâ€™ will have a rota of drunken calls that are mainly ex-wives, unless he is in therapy, in which case it will also include a pair of beleaguered parents, who are way too old to be listening to this bilge at two in the morning, but if some neo-Freudian in Putney thinks it is their fault, who are th-ey to disagree? I went out with a Rhino once, who called me, dru-nk, when I was in Rotterdam, and I didnâ€™t pick up because it would have been right pricey, so he cal-led the hotel reception instead.
Like I was going to be offended by a few swear words! I was going out with the guy! I am wondering how much the Rhino will be influenced by the sobriety lock-out. If itâ€™s no more than a red light or a beeping, he wonâ€™t even notice it, and if itâ€™s an honest-to-goodness, â€œYou cannot make this call â€” your breath has more units than Russia,â€ heâ€™ll just throw his phone down a drain.