Single people text a lot. Married people don't. According to recent figures from the National Office of Statistics the number of marriages in 2006 was the lowest number since 1895 when the population was half what it is now. Perhaps they've realised all those free minutes deals means they can afford the phone bills.
The bad thing about singleton texting is that a great deal of it is done late at night and usually when drunk. This is because married people (a) know who they're going home with and (b) don't start the night wondering if there's the possibility of sex later - because there isn't. Texting between married people is used only for pathetically straightforward purposes, such as: "Am in Tesco. Left list in ironing basket. What am I getting?"
Not, of course, that the single woman receives anything more interesting. On any given Saturday night, at around 10.30pm girls around the country will be receiving a text saying from a bloke they once slept with saying: "U out tonight?" By the way, I'd just like to point out that I cannot STAND text speak. There's hardly a mobile phone in the country that doesn't have predictive text, so use it. Please. Anway, back to the text. This is no innocent inquiry, this a blatant attempt to establish that their back-up shag is at least in the vicinity should the sender fail to pull later. It is what's known as the 'fishing text'.
Now in direct marketing terms - and according to the Direct Mail Information service - this will generally yield a response rate of 6.7 per cent, although in my experience this figure rises in direct correlation to the quantity of alcohol consumed by the recipient.
Alcohol, of course, is the vital factor in all text exchanges of this kind, complicated hugely by the vagaries of predictive text, a gizmo beloved by those of us who still like to use proper English (see above). Beware its pitfalls, particularly when you're reduced to One-Eyed texting. This is when you have had so much to drink it is only by leaning against a wall and closing one eye that you can focus on the message you're composing, which is unlikely to be Oscar Wildean in its poetic content. "I want to dual you," is a common error, as is "Rich me, baby." (Although come to think of it, there's nothing wrong with that sentiment at all. If someone wants to rich me then I'm not raising any objections.)
Worst of all however is when you've wasted the night being chatting up by someone who turns out to have a girlfriend, only to realise you've lost the pals you went out with. Said mates rightly went to bed several hours ago, but that doesn't stop you leaving at least one of them a rambling answer phone message, usually beginning with an indignant: "Why arncha answering your phonsshh? 'S only four a.m....."
Why do we do it? Does the lateness of the hour combined with the disinhibiting effects of alcohol make us realise that actually, we'd really rather have someone to go home to? I truly don't know. Perhaps it's like committing a crime. You know, you might not have motive or intent but at least you've got the opportunity. Or perhaps we text just because we can. And because we don't have to suffer a nosy parker spouse demanding: "Who are you texting at this hour?"