My French Phone Farce Almost Broke the Bank

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Shields

WHEN your boss calls you in to inform you that you've just set a new company record, it's not unreasonable to expect a little back-slapping, the pop of a champagne cork and - in those glorious days of smoking indoors - a gentle tug on a Cohiba from his walnut cigar box.

Then again, it all depends on the "record" you've just broken.

To the best of my knowledge, I still retain one title at the Daily Record which has yet to be surpassed - the loss of four company mobile phones.

It the hurly-burly world of journalism, four doesn't sound a lot. But what hoists me head and shoulders above the other careless diddies on the editorial floor is that I set my record before lunch - on the same day. "Four Phones in The Morning" may sound like a romantic comedy but it was no laughing matter at the World Cup of France '98.

Bordeaux pickpockets were having a field day with the kilted Scots and mobiles clipped to your sporran chain were easy prey.

Having lost mine, I borrowed one from a staff photographer.

That disappeared after 10 minutes so I borrowed another from a news reporter. When that also disappeared, I borrowed . . . well, you can see a pattern developing here.

Not unnaturally, this quickly reached the ears of the boss back in Glasgow. No doubt hastened by the fact that all calls to staff in Bordeaux were suddenly being answered by giggling teenagers speaking French Moroccan.

I had single-handedly reduced our World Cup coverage to a complete shambles. And the only saving grace was that I had no phone left for the editor to ring up and fire me on.

All of the above came flooding back to me at the weekend thanks to another Frenchman - Mr Jerome Kerviel. …