The ringtone revolution

My afternoon nap is disturbed by the noise of ululating women. They are celebrating the news that Mrs Cherry-Blair and Hilldog are planning to give them cheap mobile phones. This noble act of philanthropy will transform the lives of millions of African women. Instead of walking to the bazaar to gossip about the president’s latest mistress, they will soon be able to do so while feeding the hens or stroking the rooster. (But not while milking the goat, which requires two hands.) 

It may surprise you to learn that I do not, myself, own one of these devices. I do have a mobile number, but anyone who dials it is directed to the phone of a chimpanzee. This chimp screens my calls to save me the bother of telling salesmen and other hucksters to piss off. If I get a legitimate caller, the chimp arranges a time for a return call and lends me his phone for this purpose. 

Before you accuse me of exploiting the chimp, please be informed that he receives a generous stipend for his pains. He is ungrateful in spite of it, continually whining about the inconvenience of being my receptionist and so forth. His latest complaint is that women have been sending revealing photos of themselves to my number. 

“I didn’t realise I had to be your pimp as well as your secretary!” he bleated. “I want extra money for dealing with those messages. All that naked flesh is ruining my appetite. It looks unnaturally bare, even for humans!” 

He was obviously exaggerating his distaste to better his bargaining position. The chimpanzee who can hustle Gorilla Bananas has not been born. 

“You accursed fool!” I barked. “Do you think I have any idea who those women are? Some practical joker must have given my number to a swingers’ chat room. You have my permission to delete such messages immediately. And I’m not paying you extra because you can’t stop yourself from ogling!” 

“All right,” he agreed meekly. “But don’t you want to look at the pictures yourself? They are still on my phone and there might be someone you know there.” 

He had a point. This business of “sexting” has become such a craze that there’s no telling who might be dabbling in it. The practice is highly disreputable, of course, and videos have been made warning against it. But for some women, this might simply increase the thrill. 

“Very well,” I said. “Bring me your phone and I will scrutinise the photos before deleting them myself. Most of the women will certainly be strangers to me, but I cannot rule out the possibility that someone I know has suffered a lapse in standards. If so, I will punish her accordingly and instruct her to desist.” 

I am currently waiting for the chimp to give me his phone. I sincerely hope that no woman in my acquaintance has sent me an indecent photo of herself. Because if she has, Doctor Spank will be paying a visit to Bottomland.

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