Dialling back a step or two in phone technology: OPINION

A REPORT linking mobile phone use to cancer was released last year contained the startling news that rats exposed to the radiation have a slightly increased risk of developing a tumour. Why (or how) the rats were using mobile phones was (sadly) not explained.

The report, authored by US National Institute of Health researcher John Bucher, went on to say that the rats not exposed to the radiation died more quickly that the others (but only if they were male). Curiouser and curiouser, as Lewis Carroll used to say.

What also bothers me is the revelation that the ubiquitous cordless phone emits levels of electromagnetic radiation similar to a mobile.

I've long been wary of talking on my smartphone; the fear factor has included not just my personal health but also that of my hip pocket.

However, as I live a long way from family and some friends, I have more than a few mates and rels who, when they ring me at home, are on for a long chat.

Following the report, I decided it was time to return to an old-fashioned substitute: A telephone with a coiled lead (so I don't eventually glow in the dark - although that would be handy while reading in bed at night).

Finding such a device was more difficult than I thought. There were conversations with many young sales assistants that revealed they all thought I was a tad eccentric.

Finally, I score: "Hi, do you have a telephone with a cord connecting the handset to the phone?" I ask. "Umm, all our phones have cords, Madam," the salesman replies helpfully, gesturing towards shelves jammed with gleaming slimline telecommunication devices.

"No, I don't mean a power cord, I mean one with a curly cord connecting the handset to the base."

"I'm sorry, Madam, I don't ..."

Then, a lightbulb moment. He drops to his knees, scrabbles behind the boxes of technology and emerges, triumphant, with a dusty box containing an old-fashioned, no-power-cord telephone (although sadly not one with a rotary dial).

Now I can chat safely to my mates.