The phone rang for the hundredth time. I sighed, put down the iron, and answered the call.
“Good afternoon!” a false, cheerful voice rang out. “Could I speak to the homeowner please?”
“I’m a tenant,” I said dourly.
“Ah!” The Voice never faltered. “In that case, can I just ask if you have taken out life insurance lately?” I screamed silently.
“I’m not interested.”
“But if I could just take two minutes of your time to tell you about…”
“I’m really not interested. And I have to go and feed my baby.”
“A baby! How lovely, many congratulations. And have you considered how your premature death or illness could affect your children?”
“Sorry, got to go.”
“Well, thanks for your…”
I returned to the ironing, seething. Just once, just ONCE, I was going to tell The Voice to take a long walk off a short pier. These cold calls were among the many things that were really irritating me at the minute. The phone rang again.
“Good afternoon!” The Voice sang. “Could I speak to the person in charge of the bills please?” I grunted, then smiled.
“Mummy’th not in now.” I chirped.
“Oh…is your daddy there?”
“Daddy’th with my babythitter. They’re having a cuddle.”
“Um, ok. So when would be a good time to call back?”
“I don’t know, thorry. Mummy’th out till very, very late.”
“Bye bye.” And I put the phone down with a smug grin.
The next day the phone shrieked again, and The Voice rang out once more.
“Good morning! Are you the homeowner, may I ask?”
“Ah, ok. Um…”
“Er, are you the homeowner?”
“No. Anything else?”
“I believe your contents insurance is currently due for renewal, is that right?”
“You seem to know more than me. Are you going to pay it for me?”
“Er, no, madam.” The Voice seemed to rally. “This is just a courtesy call, madam, to let you know that you could save over £100 a year with our contents insurance.”
“That’s fine thanks. I don’t want to.”
“You don’t want to save over £100 per year?”
“Nope. My husband is paying the bill, and as he’s currently sleeping with my neighbour and I’m about to leave him for my dance teacher, I’d rather he was left with as big a bill as possible.”
“Is there anything else? My taxi’s waiting.”
“Well, I could…”
I was starting to enjoy the cold calling now. It certainly livened up the ironing, which seemed to go on and on and on and…anyway. Later there was another call.
“It’s not twelve o clock yet.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You said good afternoon. It’s not afternoon yet. Not by my watch.” There was silence for a moment, and I pictured the caller checking the time. Which was about half two.
“Right, well my mistake, madam,” The Voice apologised in a not-very-sincere tone, clearly thinking I was a complete idiot. I was going to enjoy this one.
“Can I help you?” I said politely.
“As a matter of fact, I think I can help you. Have you renewed your car insurance yet?”
“I was just about to. You stopped me with my hand on the mouse.”
“Excellent Mrs Brown! I think I can save you hundreds on your premium, have you got a minute to hear how?”
“Well, it will just take a moment. Or is your husband in? Perhaps he is the one to talk to.” This got my attention. Ignorant, misogynistic little…I seethed silently.
“Nope. I just put him under the patio.”
“I just buried him. Under the patio, so the smell doesn’t attract vermin. Except then I got a call from an insurance company, so it mustn’t work.”
“I, er, one moment please?” There was silence and I was confused. Surely at this point he hangs up and apologises for wasting my time? Or says he will phone back later? Surely, SURELY, he hasn’t been dim enough to believe that I just confessed to murdering my husband to a total stranger?
“Could you, er, could you just go through your current quote for me?” What?
“That could take a while?”
“Great…I mean, that’s fine Mrs Brown.” Oh, now I got it. He was keeping me on the line. What, were the police going to turn up? I laughed.
“Right, ok, let’s just wind this up. I’m not interested, I just made that up to get rid of you. Ok?”
“Ah, of course Mrs Brown! Ha ha, excellent joke. Sorry for wasting your time.” And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a cold caller hang up as fast.
I smiled and took my drink out onto the patio. Hopefully that prank would spread and I might get less sales calls. Presumably cold callers had some little society or something where they shared tips. I was feeling much less irritated now anyway.
“I can’t believe I was married to one of you people for so long,” I remarked to my sort-of absent husband, and shuddered.
I took another sip of my wine, and smiled again.