Monday, June 30, 2008


Slings and arrows, sticks and stones

I have the worst doorbell in the world: a kind of discordant jangle complete with death rattle at the end, possibly due to an exhausted battery. It seldom bodes well either: most of my actual friends hammer on the door, walk straight in or, as is most generally the case, just don't bother coming over.

I open the door without having the wit to check through the peephole first. First thing I register is the attache case. Balls. Religious types. I smile disingenuously and wait for my cue.

Hi, he says, we're making brief religious calls in the area.

Ah, my cue.

Brief it is then, I respond with my most winsome twinkle, shutting the door in his face.

I check the peephole a minute later: they are still standing there, apparently unsure what I meant. I lock the door as audibly as possible.


We were no strangers to nuisance at number 57, thanks largely to our phone number. Originally, it was 76777. Then all the Coventry numbers got standardised to 6 digits and all numbers falling short had an extra "6" tagged on the front, leaving us with 676777. Then the area got changed again and all numbers had a gratuitous "76" stuck on the front, leaving us with 76676777.

Most homes have nuisance calls offering unsolicited insurance and double glazing. We got calls from people who wanted to buy these things off us. I remember offering one bloke a very competitive package on his motorbike.

We got phone calls from people who thought we were a health centre. A message left from some old Doris who wanted to renew her prescription. I can't believe my ears. I call Joe over, he listens to it solemnly, then tells me that he'd told her to pop in on Monday and we'd have it ready for her. Now I really can't believe my ears.

We got phone calls from people who thought we were Birmingham International Airport. The phone rings next to my parents' bed at 4 in the morning, with an inquiry about Flight 123 or whatever from LA. My mother callously informs the caller that the plane has crashed, before slamming the phone down.


On the worst days, the noise of raised voices would hit me the second I walked through the door. On this occasion, however, it is Joe going to town on a cold caller:


He whacks the phone down hard enough to damage it, takes a deep breath and the next second has never shouted before in his life.

"Alright Danny, how was work?"

I ask what that was all about. Apparently, the cold caller phoned up and asked if he could speak to Mr Mc-Kay-Own, to which my badly-tempered sibling replied "no" and bashed the phone straight down. The cold caller, having apparently had a bad day and not experiencing a surfeit of job satisfaction, decided to call back and ask what Joe meant by "no" whereupon his day was not vastly improved.


Brrrr brrrr


(Weedy pre-adolescent voice): "Is Mr Wall there?"

I freeze. I am getting the dreaded wall call, famed in the schoolyard: is Mr Wall there? No. Mrs Wall? No. Are the walls not there? No. Then how does the ceiling stay up? Laugh. Hang up.

Somehow, this couldn't be creepier if I'd picked up the phone and been told seven days. I have a brief, tortured vision of myself numbly playing out my part as above, too befuddled to do anything other.

My instinct for self preservation has other ideas. I blurt out the words "go to hell" and hang up.

Phew, that was a close one.

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Listed on BlogShares