We're not addicted to our phones; they're addicted to us. Picture: Reuters

London - Goodness knows what James Herriot would have made of it. A farmer claims to have lost his iPhone up the rear end of a cow while using it as a torch during calving.

I know it shouldn’t happen to a vet, but this is ridiculous. What possesses a grown man to stick a mobile telephone up a cow’s birth canal?

Just because the technology exists, there’s no reason why anyone should feel compelled to use it. This unfortunate farmer would have been better off using a proper torch designed for the job.

There’s an app for everything these days.Some are quite brilliant, but othersare utterly useless or, at best, a clumsy compromise.

Ever since the mobile phone morphed into the Swiss Army knife de nos jours, millions of people have become addicted tothem.

Some sad cases start to get withdrawal symptoms if they are parted from their electronic insecurity blankets. They even go to bed with them under their pillows.

There was a bloke a few rows in front of me at White Hart Lane last week who spent the whole, enthralling game against Chelsea staring at his mobile and sending messages. Why did he even bother buying a ticket if the match was of such little importance to him?

Constantly checking for emails and text messages is the modern equivalent of sucking your thumb. The afflicted fall into a blind panic if they lose their phones — which can happen in the most unusual circumstances, according to a report published this week.

One woman lost her Nokia when she baked it into a Victoria sponge cake intended for her daughter’s birthday party. How did that happen? Was she using some kind of wooden spoon app to stir the mixture?

Another lady complained that her Samsung Galaxy was snatched by a rogue seagull while she was walking her dog on Barry Island in South Wales.

That’s right up there with the man who told his insurance company his iPhone had been stolen by monkeys at Longleat Safari Park. He was trying to film the animals at the time.

Camera phones have convinced everyone they are the next David Bailey. (Is he still with the Tremeloes?) Britain is in the grip of a Japanese-style epidemic of serial photography. It has killed any concept of privacy, as the world is awash with amateur part-time paparazzi.

Jeremy Clarkson knows he’s fair game, but quite rightly drew the line when someone took a photograph of him emerging from a portable toilet during a Top Gear film shoot. I’m reminded of the time a few years ago, before mobile phones achieved universal ubiquity, when I was washing my hands in a pub lavatory.

From behind the locked door of Trap Three came the shrill sound of a ringtone. (Popeye The Sailor Man, if I recall correctly.) This was followed by a muffled voice, which said: “I can’t talk now, I’m on the toilet.” Why didn’t he turn off his phone before entering the cubicle?

More to the point, why did he feel the need to answer it, let alone explain to the caller precisely what he was doing at the time?

What seemed back then to be bizarre behaviour is now commonplace. Walk into any gents’ toilet (you’ll have to trust me on this, ladies) and at least one of the men at the urinals will be speaking on a cell phone propped between his ear and his shoulder.

That would explain how a construction worker cited in this week’s report put in a claim for a phone that he said he had dropped down the toilet. Sounds like a job for Dyno-Rod.

Look, I’m no Luddite. I’ve got an iPhone and it helps make my life easier. But I don’t subjugate myself to its seductive charms. I turn it off in restaurants and wouldn’t dream of holding a telephone conversation in a crowded pub.

Yet go into any bar in Britain and it’s like entering an electronic Tower of Babel. Most of the punters have phones clamped to their ears and are jabbering away oblivious to their drinking partners.

It’s the antithesis of what pubs were designed for, not to mention downright rude.

Call me old-fashioned, but in my Fleet Street days we would bung the barman to say we’d just left if the office rang on the public pay phone. These days, failure to answer the mobile instantly, day or night, is probably a sacking offence.

Frankly, I’m at a loss to imagine what all these mobile phone addicts find to talk about all day, every day. I have enough trouble coming up with material to fill this column twice a week.

Which is probably why today I’m writing about a farmer who managed to get his iPhone stuck up a cow’s rear end.

I wonder if there’s an app for that. - Daily Mail