X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Real life

Discovering a takeaway-ordering rabbit

16 February 2013

9:00 AM

16 February 2013

9:00 AM

My ability to almost play the opening bars of Chopin’s Revolutionary Study may seem like a futile skill to have. But I never lost faith that it was going to come in useful one day. I can only play the first bit because I was halfway through learning the piece as a teenager when my piano teacher informed me — compelled, I presume, by some music teacher’s Hippocratic oath — that I would never make a concert pianist, and so I hadn’t the heart to put myself through two hours practice a day any more. I went on playing, but without worrying too much about the precise coordinates of my fingers.

What I lack in precision I make up for in volume, however. It is a very good stress-buster, although not so much for the neighbours. I once knocked on the door of the flat upstairs to complain about an all-night party only to be told by the horrid woman who lived there, ‘I hear you with your rubbish piano-playing.’

How did it come about, therefore, that my ability to hammer out an approximation of the opening bars of a Chopin study helped me to make my peace with call centres?

Well, like anyone who works from home, I am plagued about every 20 minutes by cold callers ringing my landline. I have toyed with the idea of disconnecting it, but every 32nd call it is my mother, asking whether I am alive or dead as I haven’t replied to a text message, which invariably she hasn’t actually sent.

So I pick up the landline when it rings and, 31 out of 32 times, there is silence at the end of the line for a few seconds, then someone chirpy says, ‘Hello, is that Mrs Kite?’ before security checking me to make sure I am who they think I am, even though they clearly don’t know who they think I am, or they wouldn’t call me Mrs Kite. Only then do they reveal what manner of payment protection compensation scam they are pushing.

‘It’s Ms Kite!’ I say. ‘Sorry, Miss Kite.’ ‘No, that’s not what I said. I said Muzzzzzzz Kite!’ ‘I’m so sorry, Miss Kite.’

The other day, however, an idea occurred to me during the silence. The phone rang, I snatched it up and instinctively I took an enormous breath. And then when the chirpy voice said, ‘Hello, is that Mrs Kite?’ I let out the most fantastic roar.

And the line went dead.

[Alt-Text]


Twenty minutes later, when the phone rang again I decided to try a scream. Not just any old scream, but a Hammer Horror film damsel-bitten-by-a-vampire scream. Click. This was fantastic. I had found a use for cold calls. Twenty minutes later, and largely because I was all screamed out and feeling quite mellow, I decided to develop the innovation still further. Ring ring… ‘Is that Mrs Kite?’

‘We’ve only just beguuuuun…to liiiiiiiiiiiiive! White lace and proooooomises! A kiss for luck and we’re oooooon our waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!’

But the lady in Leeds, or possibly New Delhi, failed to appreciate any of it and put the phone down before I could get into my stride. Fine. No more Ms Nice Guy.

Ring ring… ‘Is that Mrs Kite?’

‘Out on the winding windy moors we’d roll and fall in green!’ Click.

The next one got the chorus: Ring, ring… ‘Is that Mrs Kite?’ ‘Heeeeathcliffe! It’s me oh Cathy I’ve come home now! So coooooooooooold let me in your window woa-hoo-hooooo!’ Click.

Thus emboldened, I sat down at the piano in my living-room with the handset of the landline perched on top and waited.

I can’t put into words what my practice-less rendition of the opening bars of Chopin’s Revolutionary Study sounds like. Suffice it to say it is not dissimilar in style to Eric Morecambe’s brilliant performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto (by Grieg), as conducted by André Preview.

‘I’m playing all the right notes, not necessarily in the right order,’ said Mr Morecambe and I say, ‘Amen to that.’

Ring ring… ‘Is that Mrs Kite?’

‘CRASH! Diddle-eedle diddle-eedle, diddle-eedle diddle-eedle BANG! Diddle-eedle diddle- eedle diddle-eedle…WALLOP! Diddle-eedle diddle-eedle…’ Click.

Feeling positively elated, I decided to switch tactics again to really get my money’s worth.

Ring ring…silence… ‘Can I speak with Mrs Kite?’

‘Do you ever wonder what it’s all about?’ ‘Mrs Kite?’ ‘Let me put it this way. Have you ever had a dream where you’re dancing a foxtrot with Eric Pickles? And the weird thing is…’ Click.

Ring ring… ‘If a tree falls in a forest when no one is there does it make a sound?’ ‘Is that Mrs Kite?’

‘I don’t know. Is it? Come on, think woman! If a cold caller rings an empty house is the cold caller really there?’ A few seconds of silence. Then click.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close