A couple of weeks ago I broke my toe. It was the little one on the right foot for those of you who need to know these things, and I did it while rushing out to the back room of my house and catching it, full on, against the side of the kitchen units. I, quite naturally, dropped to the ground like a stone and assumed the foetal position in all its exactitudes with the exception of one leg pointing directly up like a pole without a flag and a fastly colouring toe on the end of it.
Once my vision had cleared enough from the tears of pain, I turned the air blue with my thoughts and protestations on the subject, following it up with a whack of retribution to the offending sideboard; and the sideboard thanked me by almost breaking my knuckles.
So for the past few weeks I’ve been hobbling around like an invalid and getting little or no sympathy from the ones who purport to love me: When I told Karen she emitted the briefest of ‘Ah Blesses’ before launching herself into a tale of how she broke two toes (note it had to be one more than me) when she was younger and was forced to work for a whole day cleaning and mopping up after a bunch of ‘Oldies’ at the day care centre she worked at. I did think of saying ‘but mine really hurts’ but she’d already adopted that look that all females adopt when their man talks of suffering; that of: Don’t talk about pain until you’ve given birth. I saw the danger signs and sat down to read my book and Karen walked off humming the hum of the victorious.
My eldest daughter Hannah was equally as distraught. When Karen and I went to her house last Friday and I got out of the car, with the aid of a hiking stick I’d grabbed to help me walk, she took one look at me and roared with laughter saying, ‘I didn’t expect to see you with a stick for at least another ten years’.
Having realised I was on my own so far as the TLC stakes were concerned, I decided to just get on with things and restrict the self pity to bedtime and tea breaks.
One thing you will learn about me, as I tell you more and more about my life, is that I’m not exactly one of life’s great organisers. In fact I’m hopeless. I have tried everything I can think of to plan my life with more accuracy and precision; I’ve laid all my chores and plans out for the day on the computer, and then forgotten to set the timers on the reminders. I’ve forgotten just about every appointment I’ve made; so much so that the Doctors, Dentists and Bank have taken to giving me half hourly phone call reminders right up to my appointment--- I’ve even tried post it notes, but I put them somewhere safe and to this day there where-about are a mystery.
But without a doubt, the thing I’m most incapable of getting right is having both house phone and mobile phone with me at the same time. I can have the house phone but not the mobile or the mobile but not the house phone. And because I draw on the third floor and the house phone is on the ground floor, it’s always a mad dash to get to it before the answer machine kicks in.
So there I was a couple of days ago, in the studio and deeply involved in something or another when I was abruptly reminded that I’d forgotten the house phone again (due to the fact that it was ringing its merry little head off downstairs while I was upstairs). I knew I probably wouldn’t get to it in time, but I had to try.
So I set off hobbling down the two flights of stairs, jarring pain shooting through my toe with every step--- nearly breaking my neck on the smooth kitchen floor as I took the hair pin bend to the front room.
I’d been trying to count how many times the phone had rung and how many rings I had left before it cut off, and as I neared the phone I could see the light on the LCD display. Convincing myself that this was the last ring I launched myself into the air, over the armchair, grabbing the phone as I sailed towards the sofa. I had the phone almost to my ear when I collided with the far side of the settee, dislodging a half drunken cup of tea from the shelf above and spilling it all over my head.
But I didn’t care: My toe throbbed, my hair was crystallized with cold tea and sugar, but I’d made it through the assault course of my house, and with a broken toe. I clicked the receive button with a sense of victory. I’d earned this phone call and I was going to take it.
‘Hello’ I said.
‘Hello’ came the reply in a faintly foreign voice, ‘My name’s Basil and I am calling you from Powergen’.
My mood dropped with an audible huff. If there’s one thing I’ve learned to hate over the years, its sales calls. But if there’s one thing I’ve grown to hate even more, it’s someone trying to make me believe they’re someone that they patently are not. And with a thick Indian or Pakistani accent, this guy may very well be an Aslaf, or Ibrahim but what he was not. What he most assuredly, most definitely was not, was a BASIL.
'On once such occasion when the muse was upon me I answered the phone to a Lord Cecil Humpington the third from Bangalore'
I, like most people, hate the intrusions made upon our daily lives by these parasites, and no amount of caller protection seems to stem the tidal wave of their nuisance phone calls. They offer us thousands of pounds from mis-sold PPI’s--- If we sign now we can save 400% off our windows or have our energy bills frozen for two years, which, paradoxically, is what we are doing due to the fact that we can’t afford to put our heating on in the first place.
How I deal with these numpties depends largely upon what kind of day I’ve had. They can either get short shrift from me by my calling their parentage into question, or I can have a little fun with them.
On once such occasion when the muse was upon me I answered the phone to a Lord Cecil Humpington the third from Bangalore, who was enquiring as to if, I was Mr Dixon. I replied that I hoped not, and when he enquired why I hoped not, I said because I’m a burglar and I’m doing his house over and promptly put the phone down. I then waited to see if he had the decency of mind to call the police. He didn’t. And that’s why I’ll never buy my dual fuel from Scottish Electric.
But on that day, and as I sat there, wet, toe throbbing and out of breath, I had a strange attack of levity and below is the transcript of the actual phone call between myself and Basil from Powergen. It is worth pointing out that all of my words were spoken with the voice I had adopted of a simpleton, for comedic effect.
Basil: Hello, this is Basil, and I’m calling you from Powergen, how are you today sir?
Basil: Yes, hello Mr Dixon, My name’s...
Basil: Hello my name’s Ba...
Basil: Hello, am I speaking to Mr Dixon?
Basil: Good, hello Mr Dixon my name’s...
There was then a pause. I kept the silence up
Basil: Sorry did you say you’re name is Mr Dixon?
Me: I’ve hurt my toe you know, I hit it with my head
Basil: Er...I beg your pardon?
Basil: I said I beg yo...
Me: My mommy said I shouldn’t talk to strangers
Basil: Really, why?
Me: Because I like to find out where they live and cut them up into tiny pieces with my scissors
There was a very audible click and Basil was gone; presumably to buy a flak jacket and a set of dark sunglasses.
Telesales callers--- Normally they’re a pain in the ass; recently they’ve become a pain in the toe!