I’ve just come back from a fabulous holiday in Austria, where I was woken each morning by cowbells, as the cows from the farm where we were staying meandered down the road to their green and pleasant pastures. Hiking in the mountains, we would sometimes come across large numbers munching away, and it would sound like a wind-chime factory.

It’s a wonderful thing that nobody has yet replaced these bells with electronic beepers, or even silent radio beacons. This is a fabulously appropriate technology, a location system which uses no electricity, is rugged and weatherproof, and actually enhances the environment in which it is installed.

So here’s a challenge to mobile phone manufacturers: Can you produce a phone which, as well as being small, light etc, has a ringtone which does its job of alerting the user, while actually being pleasant to listen to? By ‘pleasant’ I mean actually pleasing, rather than ‘not annoying’. You could use that built-in microphone to choose an appropriate volume level, too. Oh, and I’d like mine to play extracts from The Sound of Music, please.

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© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser