The phone you can’t use when drunk

London, July 12:

I was overjoyed to see that Samsung has launched a mobile phone that stops you making calls when you’re drunk. With its so-called ‘sobriety lock-out’ (not to be confused with the ‘drunken lock-out’, which is when you’re drunk and you lose your keys), the LP4100 is supposedly aimed at the ‘hard-living young person’, but I can’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 ‘drunken’, 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 wouldn’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, ‘Oops!’ you thought — I’m sorry, but there it is — ‘Oh shit.’

If I were a marketing man in Samsung’s employ, I’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). It’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 let’s-pretend for a second here.

Samsung’s Rhinoceros customer would be your serial drunk; for brevity, I’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 ‘hard-living not young person’ 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 didn’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 it’s no more than a red light or a beeping, he won’t even notice it, and if it’s an honest-to-goodness, “You cannot make this call — your breath has more units than Russia,” he’ll just throw his phone down a drain.