195. Knock, knock – who’s there?

Talking of which, this response has flooded in following my last blog.  What a genius way to deal with cold callers!

“My brother … would greet them with the message ‘we are experiencing a very high volume of enquiries today but your call is important to us. Please hold the line’ and then follow up by playing Wagner until they lost the will to live.”

Isn’t that inspired?  I think it would even be worth the expense of keeping a small orchestra on standby for such occasions.  If a thing is worth doing at all…

At our last house, we had a rash of callers asking for the previous owner, a Mr Trollope.  Debtors, perhaps – he was an unpleasant cove.  When he moved out, he took not only the light-bulbs but a fair amount of the light fittings too; also the handles from the cupboards.  Anway, ActorLaddie took to answering these calls with a sepulchral “I’m afraid Mr Trollope is no longer with us,” omitting to add that Mr T had moved into a bungalow near his daughter in Purley.

All of which brings to mind a conversation from my student days.

DearHeart and I were spending our usual heady Saturday night eating with our friends, Ju and Sal.  I don’t remember now what we ate but there would certainly have been a substantial pudding.  Or possibly two.  We lived on the edge in our student days.  On occasions, we’d indulge in a hot chocolate and flake as well.

Ju was funny, forthright, sharp as a blade; deeply scornful of anything pretentious.  I put it down to her being a Northern – she was from Nuneaton. Her roommate Sal was a gentler, more innocent soul and they got on like a house on fire.

Over dinner, Ju was telling us how she’d been interrupted at a crucial stage in the cooking by PoshGirl from the flat below.  PG was also embarking on a dinner party but clearly not used to working below stairs.  First, she wanted to know if one clove of garlic meant one of the sections or the whole bulb.  History does not recall Ju’s answer.  Then she wanted to know if Ju could lend her a garlic press.  Finally, she asked to borrow a potato masher.  Ju replied that she owned no such implement.

“But how do you mash your potatoes?” breathed PoshGirl, in dismay.

“With a fork!”  Ju had snapped before slamming the door.  “I suppose I shouldn’t have answered it really,” she told us.  “I could have just let her knock.”

Which led to us comparing experiences of pretending to be out:  keeping quiet when the milkman called with his bill, for example, on those occasions when there was too much month left at the end of the money.

“In my family,” said Sal, “we lie behind the living room sofa if we’re pretending to be out.  That way, people can’t see us  if they look through the front window.”

“That sounds very organised,” said Ju.  “Do you have many unwanted callers in Solihull?”

“Oh yes – many’s the time I’ve been on the floor with a Jehovah’s Witness.” replied Sal, spooning in some more pudding.  “What? What?”



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