Literary thinking

Tuesday, August 16th 2011

“Why don’t you just send the email? If you think of anything else later you can always send another one.”
“Well, thank you for that stunning insight, Captain Obvious.”
“Yeah, you know, they just come to me.”
“Should I say thank you Legolas? Although you look more like Aragorn.”
“Hmmph. At least you didn’t say I looked like Gimli.”
“You’re more like a tall Gimli. Like Gimli stretched on the toffee machine.”

Stuff I probably should have tweeted, #6

More Facebook stuff, from spring / summer 2011…

19th April 2011 – Emily just ‘accidentally’ opened a Jamaican ginger cake. She maintains it got caught on the ant paper. I remain to be convinced.

22nd April 2011 – Yesterday was Thursday. Today it is Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday, and Sunday comes afterwards.

26th April 2011 – Idea! Someone should write a book about Joanne Rowling’s inspiration for Harry Potter and all the obvious (and not so obvious) influences upon the stories and characters. They could call it HP Source. 

29th April 2011 – The other day, whilst mooching round the library, I came across a tuition guide: “Dave Pelz’s Golf Without Fear”. For a moment I misread it and thought it was “Dave Pelzer’s Golf Without Fear”. I imagine that would be rather a different sort of book.

29th April 2011 – For lunch, I had two and a half bacon muffins. Two with ketchup and one with HP Sauce. I realise this isn’t very interesting, but if Radio 2’s idea of royal wedding crowd coverage is to find out what’s in the commoners’ picnic baskets, I can chat about it on Facebook. (Other social networking sites are available.)

19th May 2011 – No, no, *making* a cake. MAKING. Not ‘mating’. Damn you, autocorrect!

20th May 2011 – Slowest. Barber. Ever. Kept going on about running around and frolicking with his mastiffs, all the while brandishing the scissors in dangerous proximity to the back of my ears. It was like the love child of Sweeney Todd and Milkshake Jake.

25th May 2011 – What happens if you *actually* put the lime in the coconut and drink them both up? Does anybody know? (And has anyone actually done it?)

27th May 2011 – Yesterday, during a failed filling attempt, my dentist remarked that I had the strongest tongue he’d ever encountered. Twenty-six hours later I am still trying to work out whether this was a compliment, a complaint or a come-on.

10th June 2011 – Alison has just been in with baby Maia, who was smiling and flirting away. We had a lovely cuddle, but she really wasn’t sure about my beard, not being used to them, and after a moment or two she seemed to get separation anxiety, her eyes wide and her lip trembling in the onset of a probable crying fit. So I disengaged and let her pick up the baby again.

12th June 2011 – East of the sun, and west of the moon…is presumably either a transitory geographical state that lasts no more than a few minutes, or an astrophysical impossibility?

14th June 2011 – Why on earth did the spam I just received offering penis enlargement have the subject line “Reminisce the good old days”? Do they know something about genitalia growth and development that I don’t? 

14th June 2011 – If you get on the wrong side of Sarah Palin, do you wake up in the morning with a moose’s head in your bed?

19th June 2011 – Feeling very full. Emily makes a delicious roast. I’m really going to miss her, though.

This is what happens when you live on a main road

Thursday, June 23rd 2011

Me: [staring out of the window]: OK, a cat walked into the undertaker’s.

Emily: …Hang on, is this the beginning of a joke?

Me: No, seriously.

Emily: Oh, OK.

I am the cake of life

Thursday, June 16th 2011

Spooky icing sugar image. Obviously the face of our Lord Jesus.

Stiff upper lip

It’s a gag that’s swiftly worn out its welcome, but this version was quite funny.

Good Morning America

Saturday, June 11th 2011

Emily just asked her mother to make me coffee. She knows that whenever she does that, I like her to use two spoons.

This is not what I meant.

One ring binder to rule them all

Want one.

I have nothing to mark, but I still want one.

(Here’s the original article, which is worth reading.)

Howlin’ Mad Murdoch

I was talking with my brother about the email upgrade call. His response was “At least yours wasn’t a fucking robot. I had a good one from Sky the other week; it went like this…”

“Mr _____, I wanted to tell you of a great new Sky HD offer we have at the moment. Tell me, do you currently own an HD TV?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Are you planning on getting one soon?”
“No, not at all.”
“…Well the offer we have is for just an extra £10 a month we can upgrade your service to include HD. It’s a fantastic offer and you qualify being a loyal customer. So shall I go ahead and upgrade your account?”
“Erm, I just told you I don’t have HD.”
“Oh, are you planning on getting an HD TV soon?”
“Why would I pay an extra £10 a month on my already extortionate Sky bill if I can’t use the service?”
“I understand Mr _____, but it’s only an extra £10 a month.”
“Yes, you said and it sounds tremendous value for money. And as much as I’d like to see blades of grass blowing in the wind, even though to do so I could probably just go outside, I still can’t use the service without an HD TV, can I?”
“No you can’t.”
“So I’m not going to pay for it, am I? Would you pay for something you can’t have?”
“Great, I think this conversation is over then, isn’t it?” <click>

The moral? Don’t try and sell stuff to the sales manager. They know all the techniques.

Did you write this symphony in the shed?

Following my experiences at the hands of the South African call centre, I took a call from my web hosting company this afternoon, trying to sell me an upgraded email package.

“There’s no obligation,” said the telemarketing chap when I told him I didn’t want to invest. “You just get a free one-month trial, and Outlook 2010 – ”
“Well, what happens if I take Outlook 2010 and then cancel? Does the software stop working?”
“No, but – we give you that free.”

Gift horses and mouths, but I remained unconvinced. “I have no need of it, to be honest. And I’d have no intention of taking up the offer long-term; we can’t afford it.”
“It’s in your interests to take this,” he insisted. “A lot of our customers are saying how great it is.”
“Yeah, I understand that it’s a good offer. But after the thirty-day trial is over I’d want to use it for two mailboxes and that’s about £12 a month, which averages out at almost £150 a year, which is money that I don’t have. So what’s the point of me signing up for something I know I’m not going to be able to afford long term?”
“Well, it’s a free trial, Jim.”
“Yeah, still not interested, thanks.”

Jim? Jim? JIM?!?!?

I know bugger all about sales. But even I know that you don’t abbreviate a potential customer’s name like that. Jesus wept. Any potential interest I might have had instantly evaporated. I am the proverbial grumpy old man when it comes to stuff like this, I know, but I’m also old school when it comes to manners, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Afterwards, I wondered if perhaps I might have over-reacted, and that’s when I thought of this:

Second Interviewer: Good evening. One of the most prolific film directors of this age, or indeed of any age, is Sir Edward Ross:, back in his native country for the first time for five years to open a season of his works at the National Film Theatre, and we are very fortunate to have him with us in this studio this evening.

Ross: Good evening.

Second Interviewer: Edward… you don’t mind if I call you Edward?

Ross: No, not at all.

Second Interviewer: Only it does worry some people – I don’t know why…but they are a little sensitive so I take the precaution of asking on these occasions.

Ross: No, no, no that’s fine.

Second Interviewer: So Edward’s all right. Splendid. Splendid. I’m sorry to have brought it up, only eh…

Ross: No, no, please. Edward it is.

Second Interviewer: Well thank you very much for being so helpful…only it’s more than my job’s worth to…er…

Ross: Quite, yes.

Second Interviewer: Makes it rather difficult to establish a rapport … to put the other person at his ease…

Ross: Quite.

Second Interviewer: Yes, silly little point but it does seem to matter. Still – less said the better. Uh…Ted…when you first started in…you don’t mind if I call you Ted?

Ross: No, no, no everyone calls me Ted.

Second Interviewer: Well it’s shorter, isn’t it.

Ross: Yes it is.

Second Interviewer: Yes, and much less formal!

Ross: Yes, Ted, Edward, anything!

Second Interviewer: Splendid, splendid. Incidentally, do call me Tom, I don’t want you playing around with any of this ‘Thomas’ nonsense! Ha ha ha ha! Now where were we? Ah yes. Eddie-baby, when you first started in the…

Ross: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but I don’t like being called ‘Eddie-baby’.

Second Interviewer: I’m sorry?

Ross: I don’t like being called ‘Eddie-baby’.

Second Interviewer: Did I call you ‘Eddie-baby’?

Ross: Yes, you did! Now get on with it.

Second Interviewer: I don’t think I did call you Eddie-baby.

Ross: You did call me Eddie-baby.

Second Interviewer: (looking off-screen) Did I call him Eddie-baby?

Voices: Yes. No. Yes.

Second Interviewer: I didn’t really call you Eddie-baby, did I, sweetie?

Ross: Don’t call me sweetie!!

Second Interviewer: Can I call you sugar plum?

Ross: No!

Second Interviewer: Pussy cat?

Ross: No.

Second Interviewer: Angel-drawers?

Ross: No you may not! Now get on with it!

Second Interviewer: Can I call you ‘Frank’?

Ross: Why Frank?

Second Interviewer: It’s a nice name. Robin Day’s got a hedgehog called Frank.

0161 4783073

You too, eh?

Here’s what I did.

“Hello, is that Mr _____?”
“It is.”
“This is Mandy calling from ETA.”
“Ah, so you’re the people who’ve been ringing me all week and leaving indecipherable messages. What are you selling?”
“We’re calling to offer you a new service that enables you to earn back up to £2500 on recent claims you may have – ”
“Sorry, hold on, wait a second. Now, what was your name again?”
“Mandy. And how do you spell that?”
“Mandy as in ‘Mandy’. Right. Can you tell me how you got this number?”
“We have a selected database of authorised numbers that we – ”
“OK, that’s fine. Tell me, Mandy, is this your full time job?”
“And are you local? I’m in Oxfordshire; are you nearby?”
“No, this is a call centre in South Africa.”
“With a Manchester number. Fair enough. South Africa’s nice as well. How long have you been in the telemarketing business?”
“Um. Five months?”
“That’s quite long. Do you like your job?”
“Yes, I do.”
“I think I would like this kind of job as well. How much do you earn?”
“…That’s rather personal.”
“Yes, I suppose it is. Sorry. Tell me, do you get time off for going to the dentist?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Is it important to have good teeth for your job?”
“…Yes, I mean, well, I mean I guess so.”
“Which toothpaste would you recommend?”

I’d love to say that this all came out of my own head, but it didn’t: I was using the counter-telemarketing script (but I still can’t believe it worked). I’d also like to say it stopped them calling me, but they’re still ringing daily. Still, fun while it lasted.

I’d be interested to hear your own experiences with these people – please feel free to leave comments!

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