This afternoon I spent a happy hour on the telephone talking to my sister. Or rather, I say hurriedly, I spent 52 minutes and 33 seconds in happy chatter.
The figure is important because we are on one of those phone deals which allow you free calls any time of the day or night – so long as you keep them under the magic hour. If you go over the hour, the bill mounts
up. Mr B is very hot on this. He appears every so often before me, as I am waxing lyrical, to tap on his wrist-watch – which means “check the time!” As time goes on, he appears even more frequently and adopts a more anguished expression as
he taps ever more urgently on his watch. Towards the end of the hour, he is jumping up and down before me, hissing something unintelligible about jaws rusting.
be fair to Mr B, he would be perfectly happy if I chatted for 59 minutes, put the phone down, then re-dialled and chatted on for another 59 minutes. But this wouldn’t happen, would it? Once the phone was replaced in its holder, that would be it,
wouldn’t it? You wouldn’t re-dial. Everything that might have been said, would surely have been said.
It’s not easy, either, to bring a conversation
to an end as the hour approaches. Especially if whoever is on the other end of the telephone has just embarked on a new story about their visit to London, or their New Year’s Eve party, or whatever happened to Aunt Vera. For a start you have to
find a way of interrupting their flow without sounding (i) rude; (ii) disinterested; or (iii) bored . It would help, it really would, if the person on the other end of the telephone could see Mr B jumping up and down, tapping his wrist watch and hissing at
me that there is no way my jaws will ever rust. Whatever that might mean...
The most expensive telephone call we ever made was to a telephone box somewhere in
Western Australia in 1992 when the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, enjoying her “gap year”, phoned us and asked us, innocently enough, to “phone me back.” This was, you need to understand, in the days before email and texting
and Skype. The days when, if your lovely girl bade you farewell and set off for the other side of the world for a year, you never knew exactly when you would hear from her. So when you heard her voice and it asked you to “phone me back”, you just
did as you were told. Especially as it was months since the last time you spoke to her. That call lasted 23 minutes and cost us £95 including.VAT. It was worth every penny.
Don’t just take it from me. It was one telephone bill which Mr B paid willingly, without a second thought. Sometimes, just sometimes, even Mr B doesn’t count the cost...