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Is there much demand for an embedded mobile breathalyser?

So, the calendar ticks over once again. It’s strange how it seems that, the older you get, the faster the years spin past – some people put this down the effects of age on the brain, or because, as an adult, you have more to distract you, but I think it’s just because the one single thing that really, really used to drum it into you that another year has passed (i.e., the spending of January apologising to people for writing the wrong year on your cheques) isn’t possible to do anymore, cheques having gone the way of the dodo, the way of the mammoth, indeed, the way of the very economy itself.

A New Year is a delicious thing. Unsullied, perfect, holding the same promise as a fresh diary or a fresh relationship or a fresh packet of cigarettes. Or, at least, it does from the 3rd of January onwards, the 1st and 2nd days of the month always being a dimly-remembered fug of alcohol-poisoning & general emotional hangover. Once your kidneys have purged the booze from your blood, however, it’s time to get your teeth into the new year like a starving dog tears into a steak. Last year was a bloody awful year, and as such this year will be ravaged, pumped for all its worth. And I intend to conduct myself in 2008 with all the discrete dignity, class, sophistication & gracious restraint of Britney Spears getting into a car without any pants on.

As with all the important things in life, it is important to have a plan, to have structure when approaching a new year. This is why resolutions are always so popular – they give a framework, a skeleton to your fate, and it’s rather easier to fill the gaps in once you have the broad aims in place first. Resolutions are also popular for rather more specific reasons, especially if you hold shares in David Lloyd or Nicorette Inc. Personally I view them with mixed feelings – I love them because they highlight the enormously delicious juxtapositions of human emotion (joining a gym, forgetting to go, eating lots of pies and then sobbing, because you’re a bloater, the whole process neatly encapsulating the entire remit of both hope & despair) and also because, even though they’re naturally rather faddish, they are useful in getting your aims for the year down, so you at least have something to shoot for.

Resolution number one – I will not text girls when I’m drunk. Oh, god. Oh, sweet heaven, this one screwed me over last year. You know that feeling you get when you wake up and remember something monstrously shameful you did the night before…? The Germans probably have a word for it (a language that can come up with ‘schadenfreude”, after all, can’t be lacking in a little creativity. ‘Tottyharrasenenshitfaycen”, perhaps) but I’m sure you know what I mean. You groggily grasp your mobile with tequila-stained fingers and moan gently with horror as you check your sent items. Saccharine expressions of love seem to be my specialist-subject, here, often using language so flowery that the recipient keels over with terminal hay-fever. Bad poetry, declarations of complete & heavenly devotion and general soppy shit is all par for the course here, and neatly torpedoed a couple of budding relationships in 2007.

Amusingly, there is an optional-extra you can have fitted to your cars’ ignition-system, which is a breathalyser. You have to puff into it before turning the key, and if you’re over the limit then, quite simply, your car won’t start. And all I can think of is how bulky this kit is, and whether or not it could be grafted onto the side of my phone.

Resolution number two – Only screen the calls you really need to. I admit this, knowing that I’m likely to be pilloried by many, many people as either being a passive-aggressive snob or as being an anti-social little retard. But I screen my calls quite a lot. 0800 numbers get binned without a second’s thought, and those marked as WITHHELD usually get fobbed-off to voicemail (‘This is Ben Harvey’s mailbox. Any message you leave me will be thoughtlessly deleted. Have a nice day!”), and that’s fair enough, I think, in this world of idiot telemarketing, but I hereby resolve to always answer my phone, even if I can’t be arsed. Unless I’m out running. Or in the bath. Or asleep. Or cooking. Or where the background-noise of the pub would ruin the otherwise-perfect lie I wove as an excuse to get out of something boring (like, say, going to work).

I may need to give this one a little more thought.

Resolution number three – don’t lose the bloody thing. I have some pretty peculiar genetic gifts, if you don’t mind me saying so. They’re not particularly useful, mind, so it’s not like I can count cards like Rain Main, or work out Pi to its last digit, but my talents to come in uniquely useful. I have two such natural blessings; the first is an inability to get totally drunk. I drink and drink and drink and then, whilst my friends are finding a nice, comfy gutter to go and sleep in, some part of my unconscious mind takes over and guides me neatly home. This is good for me, because I never wake up in police cells, but bad for me, because I’m always the one my friends call for bail-money when they do (see the section on me screening calls, above).

The second non-superpower I have is an inability to lose phones. It’s not up there with the power of flight, or x-ray vision, or being faster than a speeding bullet (that phrase always confused me, as a child – what other sorts of bullets are there…?), but again, it is something that comes in handy. I always know where my handset is. I’m more likely to walk out of the house without my trousers on than without my mobile. I dropped one in the mud at Glastonbury one year and still found it, even though it was covered in chips. So why resolve to not lose it, when I’m in no danger of losing it?

Well, simple – I’ve just boasted about not ever losing phones, so what do you think I’m two or three days away from getting mugged off me…happy new year!

2 replies on “Is there much demand for an embedded mobile breathalyser?”

I kid you not, I had this idea many many moons ago after a boozy (and rather regretful) night on the beer and have since been campaigning for the mobile industry to introduce such a product. At the time I had a Nokia brick (long time before Nokia introduced that annoying ringtone adopted by Dom Joly) and would often wake up on a Saturday morning with hazy memories of the text messages I’d sent, usually to ex girlfriends. This was before mobiles (mine at least) had ‘sent items’ which was probably better in those days because if you didn’t remember you were none the wiser.

So, with that said, I’m staking my claim of having the initial idea of introducing breathalysers on mobile phones.

I think it’s a great idea, actually, but I think another great idea is this: If you feel like you might have had too much to drink, use your phone…and call a cab or a friend. Not being preachy here, we’ve all been a little sloshed and made bad decisions, I just feel like if you need a reason outside yourself, ask a friend, preferably not the one who will have to drive if he/she says “yes, you’ve had too much to drink.”

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