WARD’S WORLS: By John Ward
The phone was ringing, no, it was warbling, as we did away with the bell arrangement some years ago and went digital, hence the indescribable warbling note it gives off, so I thought I would answer it. A voice came down the cable as in inquiring if they were disturbing me, and I pointed out that I had answered the phone of my own free will, otherwise it would keep on going and where would we be? I knew I would be in the lounge speaking for and to myself – but all that explanation got in return was a bit of stunned silence and then, Joy of Great Further Joys, the voice came back to me.
The following took place. I was speaking to Justin – no, me neither, but he sounds a nice lad and maybe his mother likes him – who asked my name. I pointed out that he had rung me, so he should have a fair idea, otherwise he was wasting his time, or was this some form of trainee obscene phone caller just starting out?
As to my name, I asked him how many guesses I was allowed at it and this was greeted with a sort of, if I am not mistaken, something we call silence, and then I said my name was Palladium and he said that was an unusual name. I replied that it was my stage name (as you do) but he could call me Pal for short and, once again, there was silence – I think he spoke in shorthand as he didn’t say much, so it was hard to say, more so in his case, as words were on ration it would seem.
The nitty-gritty bit was about to gush forth – I do so like a decent gush now and again. He was speaking on behalf the whatever survey section of whomever, that was said so quickly I knew he was also into speed reading, from the card no doubt in front of him, but sadly I was not into speed listening to take full advantage of it, but I let it pass as we continued into the next part of this multi-ranging exchange as he then said: “Mr Pal, I am going to ask you a few questions if you have the time” and I replied he or his lot were paying for the call, so go ahead, plus, I was waiting for some paint to dry.
Round 1: Was I aware that there was a forthcoming Referendum on whether to remain in or leave the EU/ magic circle/whatever? I replied that I was indeed aware and also, a certain furniture maker or retailer was also having a “Sale” that ended on any Tuesday, but the next “Sale” would be kicking off on the following Thursday morning, and so I inquired if this referendum thing was being run on the same sort of basis.
Answer there cameth not; Justin seemed to be running true to form as we went into Round 2: Had I received a Government brochure about the “pitfalls” (?) of leaving the EU? I replied that I’d wondered what that was about, as something arrived in the mail but it had no name or address on it, it was certainly not addressed to me personally, so being the ethical person like what I am, I did not/dare not read it as this was personal mail to Hugh Ever it might be for, but as I explained to Justin, I have left it unread by the door in case whoever – or Hugh, as we are coming to know and refer to him – arrived to ask if we have received it in error, but in fairness, you would have thought somebody could be bothered to write Hugh’s name and address on it, otherwise there is going to be a lot of lost-in-the-post mail.
Justin seemed to be in his “silent mode” again as I felt sure he was feverishly trying to tick the right boxes at his end, judging by the deep breaths I could just about hear. I then suggested that he was quite a trusting sort of chap, as so far he I had not given him my full name, age range, religion, results to come back of blood tests I gave recently, or shirt collar size –as, in this day and age, by just giving your postcode over the phone, a voice at the other end can normally give you all the facts as outlined above. For fun one afternoon, I may well ring up a Customer Services number for whatever is going, give a false postcode and find out if I am alive and well in another area of the country and if so, why?
Round 3: Could I give a p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e indication as to which option I would be voting for in this Referendum thing coming soon? I pointed out that I had not received any correspondence on the matter although Hugh had, but he don’t live here as far as I am aware and we have not had any bad fog of late, or at least not in the house, so until I get something through pointing out the good and bad points and giving me an honest and informed breakdown of the merits, I could not possibly form or come to a definite conclusion at this stage.
Justin then said I could look at the brochure that was meant for Hugh Ever, but I pointed out this would be in breach of the Data Protection Act, and highly illegal, reading other people’s correspondence, but Justin pointed out it contained many “pitfalls” (or put another way, “frighteners”), to wit I replied that I wanted to know both sides of the argument and not a biased one from one side, as he’d outlined at the beginning, as in Round 2.
Semi Silent Justin was making noise like steam escaping from what I could gather and next he said: “Can I thank you for your time, Mr Pal, and hope you will vote for the right decision” and I replied he had been a wonderful audience and the final decision will be made in the usual democratic way by the voters, with a clear mind and not under any threat or coercion or being fed misleading statements and/or fibs in general, but I ended by saying I hoped the outcome would be better than the “results” we’ve been getting in the abysmal Eurovision Song Contest in recent years – call me old fashioned, but my money’s still on Books Fizz winning it.
Sadly, my mum is not here to see all this kerfuffle, as when the original process to join was under way in the 1970s, a canvasser appeared on her doorstep for the “In” mob and pointed out that one of the “benefits” was that she would be able to buy a Volkswagen car, for example, cheaper than before, due to the trading tariffs being lower if we voted “In”.
She replied that as she didn’t drive, did they make any decent food mixers instead? In the end, she bought a mixer made in Hong Kong, and that gave good service for years – but there was a free competition to win a car in the deal, as I recall.
She didn’t win it, but her coconut cakes were brilliant.