Pat. Pat . Pat. Jacket pockets? No. Trouser Pockets? No.

Is it in the car?

No I’ve checked the car

Are you sure it isn’t in your pocket?


As you are no doubt aware, each week this column tries to tackle an issue of global importance so that you will be better able to understand the machinations of the world around us.

This week is no exception. The earth-shaking subject is that I’ve lost my phone. The most devastating thing about losing it is that I know it’s not in A Safe Place. A safe place is a mysterious location you put something valuable. However because you don’t know where it is and can’t get at it when you want it, it’s of no benefit to you whatsoever. A bit like NAMA.

I lost the phone in B&Q. This is not to impugn B&Q’s safeness. It’s just that with B&Q’s size, losing something in there is like saying you’ve lost it somewhere in Co. Waterford. I somehow mislaid it while buying a paint sample for the bathroom. If ever there was ignominious way to lose something it’s while buying paint samples. And not even the full tin of paint with its smooth surfaces and pleasing heft, but a small sample bottle and its effete little nail-polish brush.

There is one bright side: because it was an iPhone I lost, my productivity has now gone up about 100%. Also I’ve had so many new experiences. Having gone back to B&Q to see whether I left it at the checkout, the security people let me watch the footage of me at the till. At first I didn’t recognise the scruffy, slouching man and for a moment, suspected myself of being the thief. There’s something about seeing yourself on the jumpy TV with the time-clock in the top right hand corner that suggests any minute now, you’re going to turn violent. My wife is also visible, standing near the counter looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, when clearly she’s some sort of decoy. If we were on CrimeCall, whichever young Garda is trying to impress Grainne Seoige would be saying: “And as you can probably understand Grainne, we’re anxious to speak to the man in the black jacket – looks like it might be a Dunnes Stores blouson circa 2010. This is a particularly heinous crime… and all for the sake of just one paint sample.

As usual, my loss is a punishment for foolishness. To paraphrase mammies, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an iPhone. My almost obsessive checking of my iPhone for emails and tweets has been punished.

It was ever thus. If I listen carefully I can still hear the echoes of Fate laughing its hoop off back one October day in 1985. I had been given a present of a pen with a small digital clock on it. In the 1980s, rather than advancing technology forward, innovators preferred to just put two existing pieces of technology together as if in some gruesome genetic experiment. This led to an appearance of a plethora of Digital-Watch-And-Something-Else products: Pens, calculators, rulers – everything seemed to need a little time.

For reasons best known to myself, I brought the clock-pen with me while picking spuds. Before I’d picked a midday dinner’s worth, I’d lost it.

Then as now, there was nothing else for it except the prayer to Saint Anthony.

Christian Hagiography attests to the existence of a number of Saint Anthonys so I’ll need to make sure I pick the right one. St Anthony of Antioch lived in the Egyptian desert. Over the course of his life, despite being beaten by the devil and tempted with luxuries by the villagers, St Anthony of Antioch sought deeper and deeper austerity. It’s not him I want. He is the patron saint of the ECB. St Anthony the Great lived in the Libyan Desert and was tempted by the Devil, who sent him phantoms of women. We’ve all been there with phantom women. The Saint Anthony who finds the backs of earrings stuck in your mother’s jumper is Saint Anthony of Padua. He is alternatively known as St Anthony of Lisbon – presumably because, like the referendum, sometimes you have to ask him the same question twice.

He is also the patron saint of elderly people but that may just be because he is always around at their houses looking for their glasses case.

St Anthony is said to have got his powers because he lost a book of psalms and managed to recover them. The Lives of the Saints doesn’t recall exactly what Anthony’s first words were on realising his book was lost, but it’s safe to assume it was something along the lines of: “Well that’s just great, now who do I pray to?

I’m not hopeful. Although he has a long career of searching the backs of sofas, making things just ‘turn up when you were looking for something else’ there are times when Saint Anthony can’t do anything. If you lost digital-watch pen while picking potatoes or an iPhone because you couldn’t stop checking Twitter when you should have been picking ‘Coral Ivory 4’ you only have yourself to blame. Terms and conditions apply. But I’ll give it a go. It helps to do something – I find.

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