We are no experts on the magic of modern telephony. But we do use telephones, and the great majority of our calls are, given the nature of our work, international ones. So we have come to learn a thing or two about dialling codes. That for calls to Britain, we dial +44 and for Ireland +353 as prefixes to the national number. But only latterly have we realised that hidden behind the seemingly innocent bureaucracy of a few numbers is a remarkable amount of politics.
Had you noticed, for example, that Vatican City has a new dialling code? Previously, if you needed to call the Pope then +39 was the dialling code - the same as for Italy. But now Pope Benedict can be reached via the new prefix +379.
Montenegro's new found status as an independent state will probably prompt local doubts about the wisdom of sharing +381 with Serbia.