"Waiting for the other shoe to drop" was a phrase I heard often when working with Americans; I thought they had created it but it seems it may have been we Brits who coined it for them. It came back to me when thinking of the phone hacking as now being described in the Wade & Coulson trial now in progress. Why did we not hear far more of the revelations so easily captured from the mobile telephones of the rich and famous or the pseudo-rich ad famous? After all, the surveillance industry has many nifty little gadgets for eavesdropping and I have not heard anything about their being used. Most companies have premises swept for electronic bugs but a device does not have to be in the physical cartilage of the offices.
These musings led me to think deeper. Did anyone do widespread or targeted eavesdropping or was it impending interest that directed the buggers? For example, was anyone dropping in on the conversations of that 'fragrent' wife of an erstwhile Lord? Why did we not hear long ago about la sauce hollandaise? Given what passes as politics in America there must have been rich pickings hanging on low branches. Not that we would want daily situation reports - we have the Daily Wail and the Sun for such stuff - but those times when someone goes on a updated Tea Party. Mention of the Wail reminds me that the Daily Mirror used to have a feature called The 3am Girls. These were not even undercover but were party girls with loads of front and large ears. There was a report that when Posh was in America and Beckham mania was high a 3am girl was established in America just to hone in on the buzz. Not a big step from party going to the surveillance shop one would have thought.
We do seem to have come upon hacking a little late. It was 1989 that our bonnie Prince contemplated resurrection as a Tampax. That was captured on a simple scanner and the story is that Special Branch had a number of recordings from various sources. The technical advances in communications have killed off the scanner routes but modern day interception of phones is not difficult anyway.
Of course, once one gets into the depths of theorising about this, it can go haywire. Could it be that the current drama of flooding is the result of some secondary Thames Barrier created by abandoned phones dumped in the Thames? And, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when the Metropolitan Police Underwater Search Team were told they were going under to find a mobile phone.