People say it's not what you know in life but who you know. Certainly I've always coveted friends, family, work colleagues — and the tens of hundreds of contacts I've accrued as a journalist with nearly 40 years on the clock.
I have the telephone numbers of politicians past and present (including the PM's mobile), movers and shakers in the arts, business, sport, the medical profession, academia, the Church of England (I once covered religious affairs) and key 'sources,' 'deep throats' and general renegades from various walks of life.
Then there's the all-important telephone numbers of plumbers, electricians, restaurants, my GP surgery, the dentist, the chap who does my car's MoT, and the neighbours across the street who turn off the burglar alarm if it goes off when my wife and I are not at home.
The list is long and it's a lifeline of sorts. A part of me, a part of who I am. Or, at least, it was.
Because ten days ago I lost everything from my mobile phone.
People say it's not what you know in life but who you know. Certainly I've always coveted friends, family, work colleagues — and the tens of hundreds of contacts I've accrued as a journalist with nearly 40 years on the clock, writes Mark Palmer (stock image)
To make matters worse — and in a display of stupidity of the highest possible order — I had never done a back-up because I assumed there was a cloud somewhere which automatically would store my data.
There wasn't. Instead, I am now wandering around under clouds of confusion and despair, angry with myself and infuriated that a small device made by Samsung in far-away South Korea can have such a devastating impact on one's life.
You are told you should take deep breaths when faced with a crisis. Others bang on about how it's a case of getting up and dusting oneself down. Believe me, I've tried but the frustration gets worse rather than better. Not only have I lost every single contact but my photo 'gallery' has been wiped clean as well.
Photographs which I always promised would one day go into a physical album (but realistically knew it might never happen), are lost for ever.
That means all the pictures of my daughter's wedding in October have disappeared, including the precious one of the two of us walking down the aisle to the strains of Pachelbel's Canon in D.
Then there are the photos of my father-in-law's 90th birthday celebrations; pictures of my stepson's new-born baby; snaps of my wife visiting Malawi, where she was born, and one of me shaking the hand of Sir Bobby Charlton, whom I bumped into a few years ago at a railway station.
It felt as if a crucial part of my life had been eradicated, that I was trapped in a Kafka-esque nightmare as a victim of the tyranny of the mobile. And if that sounds a touch melodramatic, then so be it.
This is how it happened. My wife and I were on holiday on the delightful island of Grenada in the Caribbean, staying at a resort on famous Grand Anse Beach.
On the fateful day, I had left my phone in our hotel room while we enjoyed a tour with a guide. We returned around 5pm in good spirits and were planning a swim, followed by a cuppa and then something stronger.
I picked up my phone and realised straight away that something was not right.
For a start, I did not need to punch in any numbers to unlock the device. Then I noticed that my screen saver photo (the one of my daughter and me at her wedding) was not there.
For a second, I thought it could not be my phone but then I saw its various scratches and realised it was indeed mine.
But why was it asking for passwords and wanting me to 'allow' various things?
Why did I have to flick through reams of terms and conditions and