I'm just about to run out the back door when the phone rings.
'My name is Ricky. I am calling from Brisbane Australia.'
He has that clipped consonant attack I recognize.
'Oh, what are you selling?'
'No my dear. Not selling. Your phone number…'
I interrupted him at once. 'Oh yes. The buzz in the phone. The tics, the scratches, the grunts, the crackles. Good! You are coming to fix my telephone at last. Can you hear that awful…'
'No, no. Yes yes. Your phone number has been selected for a prize...'
I interrupt him again. 'Now Ricky. I think you are actually calling from Mubai and your name could be Raj! I can hear the Bollywood music in the background.' I can't really.
'No. No. You have been selected…'
I cut him off with a 'Dhanyabad bhaiya.' Thank you brother. I put down my noisy, stuffed-up phone. I am running late for my bookies club at the Performing Arts Centre cafe.
The phone rings.
'This is Richard here.'
"No, no. Not you again.'
'Pardon? I'm ringing about your telephone...'
'Yes Richard. I know. I have won a prize. I just have to send $40 and collect it?'
'No no. I'm coming to your house tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 12 noon. Is that okay?'
'You mean, you're not the call guy from Bombay? You do sound different?'
'I can hear the crackle in your phone. It's pretty bad but I'll fix that up. No worries.'
I am blushing but he can't see that.
I run out, slamming the door. The bus is running late fortunately so I do get to my bookies meeting where we will discuss 'Prochownik's Dream.' Oh, these foreign unpronouncable names!
Okay the true story is that Alistair came and fixed my telephone this morning. I almost did the highland fling when the phone line was clear again! The cable outside was almost had it – beneath leaves and sticks in a corner of the garden that needs cleaning up.
Then the story I wrote – which is three-quarters true – reminded me of an incident Lautoka Fiji quite a long time ago.
A teacher from Jasper Williams school (a Methodist school) was driving down a Lautoka street and was stopped by a burly policeman. She was very worried, but the policeman politely asked, ‘Have you any Bibles for sale?’
She was astonished and said, 'No, not today.'
A week later, Rev Edward Caleb, the padre of Wesley Methodist church at the time, was driving down the same street in Lautoka (and he had heard the story of the teacher) and was stopped by the same burly policeman. ‘Oh,’ says Edward. ‘Do you want to buy some Bibles? I have some in the car.’
‘Sega sara padre,’ (No) says the Fijian policeman. ‘You were speeding!’