Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How to become the owner of four iPhones you don’t want: it’s not that hard, believe it or not, and a lot easier if you are – like me – an idiot. And talking of idiots: Manchester United. What is going on?

I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest blade in the box (although if someone else were to do me the honour of making the claim, I would be flattered even though I know it would be complete shite), but every so often I find myself in a situation where even I, myself, doubt whether the lift always goes to the top floor. I am now in such a situation.

I can rapidly reassure any folk who might be concerned that my life is not in danger or anything of that kind, but if word got out, my credibility would once again be in shreds. And might I add a plea to one of my regular readers (read on and you will know who you are) to keep the following well under wraps and not to inform any of our mutual friends and colleagues of what I am about to reveal (although asking a hack, even a retired hack to keep something to himself is the very definition of futile. Still. Last July,

I came clean and gave an account of the many mobile phones knocking around Powell Towers. I am glad to say I have since got rid of most of them on eBay. But that’s as good as it gets. For now, believe it or not, have in the space of just ten days become the owner of not just one, not two, not even three, but four iPhones.

It doesn’t help my credibility very much when I add that all are used. It all began when my son, who has a part-time job washing dishes in a local pub and has saved himself a little money, asked me to help him buy an iPhone on eBay. (This is a lad, by the way, who doesn’t actually use a phone, and has had passed on to him about three phones, not of which he has used.) Certainly, I told him, and what did he have in mind? It was an iPhone 5s he said, which would now be coming down in price with the – then imminent – release of the iPhone 6. So I kept an eye out and managed to find a 16Gb model.

His price limit was £300, and this one was going for £366, so being a good-hearted kind of chap, I coughed up the rest myself – I mean, what are dads for? He was very happy with it. That’s when the rot set in: I decided that if I made an effort to sell all the other phones I had, including the two – yes, two, though for a reason – I could then afford to buy on for myself and not really be out of pocket. And as I also sold my iPod Classic and a 64Gb iPod Touch,

I realised that I might be able to find a 64Gb iPhone 5s which could double up as my iPod. And that is what I did, and on October 12 landed a very nice one for exactly £366. That was a stroke of luck because all other 64Gb iPhone 5s were going for at least another £100.

But let me explain why I ran two phones and why I decided to get a second iPhone, though this time just a 4s. My usual phone is on Vodafone, but I have been using another on Three which (until this week) had a deal of unlimited internet data for just £15 a month. And that meant that when I was travelling up and down to London, I could listen to Five Live coverage of Champions League matches.

So I bid for one on eBay – ‘manufacturer refurbished’ – and won it for £142. It arrived on Monday morning. I stuck in the sim, and tried to activate it, but was informed that it couldn’t be activated. Worse, it couldn’t be turned off, either. And the condition was pretty manky. So I decided to get my money back from the seller.

In the meantime, later that night I bid for another 4s and used ezsniper to put in my bid at the last minute (it works a treat, by the way: you put in the maximum you are prepared to pay and if it goes higher, who cares, you weren’t going to pay more anyway. On the other hand no one is aware of your interest and as your bid only goes in with three seconds to spare the price is not jacked up and I’ve found you get the item for a lot less than your maximum).

Later that night I saw another offering which looked good at a reasonable price, but this time a Buy It Now. So I bought it now – and realised only too late that I was already bidding on the first iPhone (well, the third if you have been following).

When I realised I was up at Tesco getting something for my supper, but even rushing back in order to cancel the bid didn’t help: I’d bloody won. So in a matter of minutes I was the proud owner of four iPhones, two of which I didn’t want. The manky one is now on its way back to the seller who will give me a refund. The second will go up for auction again. But do I deserve to be called a prat? You know, I think I do.

. . .

I’ve just been watching, here in the Brewers Arms in South Petherton where I break my journey on a Wednesday night, Arsenal save face in the nick of time. Elsewhere Liverpool were stuffed by Real Madrid and are unlikely to get through to the second knock-out round. After the matches finished, I went to the BBC sports site to look at the Champions League tables.

I couldn’t find mention of my team, Manchester United at all. Well, obviously I couldn’t because they didn’t qualify. But remembering that took a second or two. And I reflected just how odd it was that they were not able to take part this year. They have got off to a poor start and even under the managership of Louis ‘Mr Magic’ van Gaal, they are not really thriving.

Yesterday they had the opportunity to go fourth again, but didn’t. Ok, so they drew, but winners don’t draw – they win. And although they drew 2-2, each time they scored they came from behind.

Despite brave talk by van Gaal that they could still win the Premier League in May, I don’t think so. And I’ll be contented if they manage to qualify for the Champions League next year. But will they? Will they? I somehow doubt it.

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