As regular readers know only too well, I am a great fan of the telephone.
I can - and do - spend many happy hours on the
‘phone to my Nearest and Dearest, always trying to remember to hang up when our conversation has lasted exactly 58 minutes 39 seconds, thereby approaching the end of “Free Time”. Only to re-dial immediately if we haven't quite finished our
chat. Mr B shakes his head in wonderment at what we find to talk about, especially as, when asked to relay to him the most important parts of our discussion / conversation / idle chatter, I can sum up the salient points in five minutes flat.
This morning it was the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, enjoying the luxury of a half-term holiday from her job in a local Infants School, who calls me for one of our regular chats.
“But you're seeing her tomorrow !” protests Mr B. He can't believe that we will still have things to talk about when we meet, with others, around a long table at Bill’s in Wimbledon. We will, of course.
Yes, tomorrow will see the latest of our “Lunch at Bill’s” meetings, involving two of my Darling Daughters, four grandchildren (including the Trio of Rampaging Rascals), my best friend
from school and her Darling Daughter, Pip, who is also my god-daughter. Pip has booked the table, asking specifically, for the long table tucked away in a corner where we can hopefully keep the Rampaging Ones from disturbing the peace of our fellow diners.
We will have our secret weapon with us in the shape of Hazel Bagel, on her half term break from her studies at Arts Ed. She will bring her customary energy and boundless good humour to the task of Keeping Rascals Out Of Mischief - though, hopefully, there
will be plenty of time to catch up with all her news as well.
But I digress. That's okay, I hear you say, regular readers know well that digression is to the Daily
Blog what Rampaging is to the Rascals - second nature. I was talking (wasn't I?) about telephone conversations and why I love them. Except that for the last hour I have been put on hold by an organisation called the Patient Choice Navigator, which is playing
thoroughly annoying music at me. I did hang up after the first half an hour and dialled again but they hadn't changed the music, it's as annoying as ever. Plus I daren’t hang up again because I am pretty sure this is my opportunity to choose a hospital
referral and it's an Opportunity Not To Be Missed.
Every so often the music comes to an end: “Hello! Hello! Is anybody there?” I plead - at which point
the annoying music chimes in again. The recorded voice that answered my call in the first place informed me that all calls were monitored for training purposes - I'm not sure who is doing the monitoring, as in, are they as bored as I am? Do you know, I think
I would almost prefer to hear, just occasionally, that incredibly aggravating message that goes something like: “Your call is important to us, please continue to hold and one of our staff will answer your call when they (I) return from lunch; (ii) have
stopped discussing last Saturday’s Strictly Come Dancing; or (iii) can be bothered.” In the case of Patient Choice Navigator, I'd suggest a message saying: “Are you still holding, you daft ‘apporth? Please continue to hold if
(I) you are enjoying the music; or (I) you are labouring under the misapprehension that there actually is a human waiting to speak to you.”
hour of patient holding, I end my call. It's after 5 p.m. so I fear everyone at Patient Choice Navigator must have chosen to navigate their way homewards. Besides Mr B is anxious that I start dinner preparations.
I contemplate the inarguable fact that, much as I love the telephone, there's nothing that can beat face to face conversation. This afternoon I met up with my friends John and Peter for coffee - they
wanted to show me support in a current tricky situation. They've both phoned me over the past week but they thought it would be so, so much better to meet up for a chat in beautiful St Paul’s Community Centre. How true. Tomorrow the Youngest of the Darling
Daughters and I will continue our ‘phone conversation - but face to face.
On the Patient Choice Navigator, I have no doubt, the music will still be