Bewildered by phones

As her trusty old phone finally gave out, getting to grips with today's technology proved a far more difficult task than Gayle was prepared for.

BATTERED by years of use, my home telephone has finally given up the ghost. The keyboard buttons had become increasingly temperamental, with several of them refusing to respond when pressed.

I had to catch them at exactly the right angle and pressure (and find them in a good mood) to make them work.

I have had the phone for about six years - aeons of time in today's fast -moving technological world - but I expect appliances to last longer than that, so it took a while for me to decide to buy a new phone. Eventually, I took the plunge.

The first shop I went into didn't even sell landline phones any more, only mobile phones. I have not, and probably never will, grasped the miniaturised nettle of mobile phone technology.

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My sister is always upgrading, and now has a phone that will take photos and videos. And even, for all I know, recite the entire works of Shakespeare or tell the microwave to cook your dinner.

But I am sticking with a landline, and only reluctantly changing the old one for a new model.

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I considered getting a version which boasts BIG BUTTONS for those of us who can't see a tiny keyboard without our specs on and have large clumsy fingers. But in the end, I plumped for a more streamlined model.

Having charged it up for 24 hours, I unplugged the old phone, set up the new one and connected it to the electricity and phone sockets. This involved a certain amount of grovelling around on hands and knees in dusty, spidery corners under the table, disentangling phone wires from computer cables etc but I finally got it wired up and felt pretty pleased with myself.

Then, instruction manual in hand, I started trying to work out how to make a call, pressing various buttons.

Suddenly, I heard a disembodied robotic voice behind me, intoning: 'Well done Gayle - I wouldn't have expected anything less!'

Can you imagine my horror? 'How does the damned telephone know my name?' I wondered. 'And why is it talking to me when I haven't asked it anything??' Completely unnerved by the experience, I unplugged the whole thing and put the bits back in the carrier bag, ready to return it to the shop and tell them I just couldn't cope with a phone that thinks for itself.

As the panic subsided, I realised that I must have accidentally activated the ansaphone. After thinking about it a bit more, I worked out that someone had in fact sent a text message to my landline (yes, I had heard that such things can be done). The rest of the family found this whole story hilarious.

I have persevered with the phone and, with a bit of help from my son, managed to work out how to make calls, store numbers and even scroll through the menu. I can work the ansaphone and have set a classical music ring tone.

But I don't think I'll be investigating the other pages of the instruction manual. At this stage, I am still in control of the phone and I don't want it to get the upper hand and start telling ME what to do .

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