Monday, November 14, 2011

What would BT say?

I've been thinking about phones.
Last week a truck hit the telephone pole at the back of our house, taking it out and all telephone and broadband for our house as well as all other houses in the spiderweb of wires it fed.
A week later we still have no phone etc. I just rang BT. I know, I should get a medal just for that. Do you know how hard it is to get a phone number for them? I searched the website at work and found nothing except an online form to fill in. Usually you just ring 150, but that won't work.
I eventually got the number from the IT dept:
91211280 (I think the 9 here is the number I have to ring from work to get a dial tone), then 150 for sales or 152 for faults.
After a 5 minute 'conversation' to a robot I finally got to speak to a human being. You get the feeling of finding water after struggling through a desert.
Anyway, they wanted to make it clear if I report a fault and the trouble is with my equipment I'd have to pay £130.
Well, I told the lady i knew what the problem was, the telegraph pole has gone. All the wires for about 10 houses are spread all over our garden and hedges neighbouring us.
She seemed think i was the first person to report the fault, well what about the BT people who took the pole away?
Anyway, she said there is a 3 day wait to have hinges fixed. Roll on Thursday.

When I was a kid phones were a great source of entertainment on a boring rainy school holiday day.
Especially, if like us you had a party line. Kids today don't have a clue what this is. It's when 2 or more houses had the same phone line. If someone was on the phone, not only could the other house not make a call, but you could pick up the phone and listen to their conversation. Also, if you both picked up your phone, you could chat for free.
As a bit of a scamp I would occasionally be naughty and have a listen in to conversations. But apart from once being told to stop listening from the lady down the road, it really was a bit boring.

Other things I used to do, was just pick up the phone and listen. If you listened carefully you could hear a white noise and faint voices, which I always imagined were the operators?

Also, in those days (70's) we all had 1 phone each. No houses with a phone in each room, no DECT. So one day I decided to dial my own number. In theory nothing should have happened, but a lady answered. So I asked to speak to Chris (myself) and the lady asked me to hold while she went and got him. I was so freaked out I put the phone down. Telling this story later, people don't always grasp this wasn't someone in my house answering, as I was on the ONLY phone.

There was also a number you could dial, it had a few 2's in it, that when you rang it and put the phone down it would make the phone ring. Always good for a little joke.

And phone boxes! The old style would let you speak for a few seconds while you put money in. So, a little game me and my friend played was seeing what the longest number was we could dial and get a ring tone. I seemed to remember dialling 13 numbers (at a time when most numbers only had 3 digits), so I guessed it was somewhere across the globe. It rang for ages (again, supporting my theory that whoever's house it was, was probably asleep), and then a tired voice said 'hello', I just said 'goodbye' , hung up and went off to play in the fields. I've often pictured though a tired Australian or American scratching his head wondering who it was, maybe thinking it was his practical joker friend not realising it was a little boy in a village in South Wales.

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