Ben Harvey phonejacked by naked mugger

Friday, 3pm, it’s time for Ben Harvey’s weekly column. This week’s subject: Losing it

– – –

Oh, god, there should be a word for it. You know that feeling, when you’ve been in an argument with someone, and you’re thinking back about what you said, and the perfect point, the perfect reply, the perfect quip pops in your head half an hour or half a day too late? There ought to be a word for that feeling.

There probably is a word, in German. They’re good at that sort of thing. Schadenfreude, for example.

If I had to describe it, it feels like that split second when the lock in your front-door snicks shut and you realise that your keys are still on the kitchen table, but slowed down quite a lot. Anyway, I found out today that this feeling doesn’t just apply to having the right retort in an argument, it applies equally well to not having the right bit of kit at the right time.

For example – one upon a time I was mugged. It wasn’t terribly violent and I wasn’t badly hurt and so, in these terrible days of stabbings and drugs and kidnapping and such it probably ranks, in the world of crime, about as seriously as not clearing up your Labrador’s dog-egg, or drinking three whole pints and then driving home.

The whole affair actually makes for quite an amusing story, if only because the gentleman that did rip me off did so whilst I was talking to my girlfriend at the time, the poor girl hearing the patter of footsteps down an alley and then various enthusiastic male grunts, leading her to the inevitable conclusion that I was actually dogging with this fellow.

Other strange aspects of the case include the fact that the villainous cad who wrestled me for my handset did so whilst not actually having a top on, a fact which led the police, when I described him as being ‘quite a well put together young man”, to the inevitable conclusion that – you’ve guessed it – I was actually dogging with this fellow.

And, finally, the reason he was finally caught was due to the fact – half an hour later – that he was nonchalantly standing in the same queue for the bus as me round the corner from Tottenham Court Road. I did jump in a phone box (Christ – haven’t done that for a while…) and call the boys in blue who did, admittedly, turn up in about ten seconds, but their speed was, I think, mostly due to the fact that they were hoping for a wedding invite as, in their eyes, our relationship must’ve blossomed from mere dogging into something serious. I mean, why would he be catching the same bus as me otherwise…?

Anyway, I did manage to explain the situation and the nasty man got carted off in the back of a police-car, which was excellent news all round, especially since I got his seat on the bus. I got a sit-down and he got six years in prison, as the chap turned out to be an itinerant crack-dealer and – Pete Docherty aside- it seems as if the justice system in this country does actually lock people up every now and then.

What, you may quite rightly be asking, does all of this have to do with strange German words for not having the right bit of kit at the right time? Well, I’ll show you – if only I’d had this in my pocket.

800,000 volts! Eight hundred thousand! More sparks than that time I accidentally put my brother’s laptop in the microwave. Oh, that would’ve been sweet. How powerful is that, anyway? It’s coming up to the sort of kick where you could send a Delorean through time, isn’t it? But yes. I would quite happily have handed my phone over to the mugger then…

It does strike me as most peculiar, though, that the main thoughts that went through my mind – as I was manhandled by this fellow with a criminal lack of care – had nothing to do with the fact that he might stab me, or that my girlfriend’s tinny screams were rising up between our writhing, fighting fingers, or even that this half-naked gentleman was pushing himself against me in a dark alley without even having bought me dinner first. The things that went through my mind were ‘Oh, f*ck! I’ve not backed-up my numbers for months!” and also ‘I wonder how much trouble Vodafone are going to be about the insurance”.

I do have to admit that often the thoughts that I have at times of crisis are sometimes not perhaps the ones I should be concentrating on, the normal topics of my mental narration usually involving girls, whisky and where the nearest vendor of pork pies are, but that was pushing it, even for me. Worrying about the administration of replacing the handset isn’t, you’d’ve thought, the best way to use your mind when that self-same handset is currently being robbed from you.

But! But, apparently, I am rather wrong. Speaking to three friends that have also had their mobiles mugged off them, two out of the three did indeed panic more about the data on the phone, the actual fact they were being kicked and punched being something of an inconvenient side-effect. The other friend, Nick, was actually more worried about the method of mugging, but that’s because he was mugged by a girl and was busy thinking how the hell he was going to explain it to everyone.

Oh well. It’s his own fault for going to Norfolk in the first place.

This may be fruitful grounds for a research project, in fact. Do Nokia users fight back harder than those about to lose their Sony Ericsson? How much more do you struggle if it’s your own phone, as opposed to a company one? And just how many tears, as measured in millilitres, would an iPhone owner weep if you lifted their new toy scant days after they bought it? Who says science has to be dull…I’m sure we could get a grant for this sort of thing…

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