21 February 2012


A few minutes ago, the doorbell went. I was halfway through the crossword in the Sheffield "Star". Standing outside was a grinning campaigner for the Liberal Democrats. We have the dubious pleasure of residing in the odious Nick Clegg's consituency. (Foreign readers please note he's Britain's Deputy PM). Magically, she knew my name and quickly gave me hers - Penny - before flashing a LibDem newspaper in front of me. "Not interested!" I said firmly and immediately shut the door. I needed to get back to my crossword.

Yesterday morning, I received a mailing from a company that deals in expensive designer blinds without which of course no home is complete. They got my name wrong. Instead of using my proper surname "Pudding" they used my middle name in its place. Let's just pretend it's Algernon - which of course it isn't. He's a friend of Rupert the Bear. I have no idea how these bloodhounds tracked me down or why they mailed me in the first place.

Algernon the pug
Since that mailing arrived I have had four phone calls from the blind company. Brr-brr, brr-brr. "Hello?" Crackle. Pause. "Can I speak to Mr Algernon?" Immediately, Mr Algernon puts the phone back in its cradle and returns to whatever he was doing before - cooking, listening to the radio, writing another fantastic blogpost. Why should these money-grabbing businesses imagine that it's okay to invade people's privacy in this way?

And please don't tell me about "preference services" - I am signed up to them all and have been scrupulous in ticking or unticking online tick boxes to avoid unwanted mailings and phone calls.

In everyday life I am exceedingly polite as I go about my daily business and it used to be that I would deal very politely with such undesired phone calls. However, as years have passed I have become more and more irritated by these intrusions and usually just put the phone down when I realise who's calling but I am thinking of adopting some new tactics as a kind of sport.

When I am free to do so, I might string the buggers along - pretend I have fallen into their trap and pull out at the last minute or provide false bank details or a wrong address. They irritate me so why shouldn't I irritate them? Another idea I've had is to ask for the caller's home phone number.


"So that I can phone you at home - just as you have phoned me. Come on. What's your number?"


"Right then. You're not prepared to give me your number so would you please remove my name and number from your data bank? I don't want you or your company to ever phone me again. Got it?"

Why can't our overpaid politicians do something about these telephonic invaders? The idea of hiring a team of assassins is attractive but perhaps you've got another way of dealing with telephone intruders? I feel especially concerned about older people who may be even less sharp than I am! They may find themselves drawn in by these telephone villains.


  1. We are being driven mad by lots of these calls at the moment...I think we must be on a list somewhere....I just put the phone down now.......do they just go on for ever and ever?

  2. LIBBY The callers have probably got targets to meet. It's not them I hate, it's their bosses. Let's march on Parliament like Jihadists!

  3. In the States when I was there last (2003), where I was staying, one didn't answer the phone between 4.30 and 9.30 pm. If it was a relative, they knew to ring thrice, hang up, and then phone back immediately.

    There, I was informed, 'robots' phone ten people at once. The first person to answer cuts off all the others and transfers the answerer to a real person, who, presumably, just sits there reading magazines and drinking coffee until someone like me is dumb enough to answer their phone.

  4. I don't get many calls, when I do hear the phone ring I worry that it's serious, so I break my neck to get to it. Lately it's either been a robocall from our local congressman who I despise, or from a perky man who says, "Are your carpets dirty?" Well, of course they are, I life on a farm. What makes me very mad is you can't even be impolite because there isn't a real person on the other end of the line. I want a button on my phone that I can press when I'm annoyed by things like this, it will set off a small bomb at the other end of the line. Not deadly, just enough to singe eyebrows. Oh, and I want the same thing on my computer for all the unsolicited penis enhancing emails, but it will actually blow up a body part.

  5. PS I like the name Yorkshire Algernon Pudding. Almost as much as Wilberforce Ezekiel Arbuthnot.

  6. I am laughing at Jan's body-part-blowing-up wishes.
    (And she seems such a *nice* person.)

  7. I know I have a title but I cannot be polite to cold callers...
    When they were ringing up to 8 pm at night I was sick of asking " do you think this is an appropriate time to call someone?"
    now I just put the phone down before they even get going!

  8. I totally agree, YP but in my case, I do have to be a bit careful in case the caller is someone ringing about counselling, so I can't 'cut them off in their prime' before I've made sure.
    The phone preference service doesn't seem to work at all.

  9. I've also joined all the opt-out lists and ticked boxes obsessively and am still pestered by callers.

    It's the one time I am cheerfully and deliberately rude. When asked to confirm details, I've taken to agreeing to the idea and then asking for the caller's full name, address and date of birth. Strangely none have been prepared to offer me this information, despite asking for it from me. How rude.

    Most of the time we don't pick up the phone unless we recognise the number. Any genuine caller will leave a message.

  10. KATHERINE I just knew that George W Bush was behind all these intrusive phone calls!
    JAN BLAWAT I think there's a name for women who dream of blowing up penises!
    JOHN GRAY An Earl must always keep his cool. Shouldn't your butler, Mr Chris, take incoming calls for you?
    JENNY Yelling down the phone - "Just leave me alone!" might be the shock that troubled clients need to get back on an even keel. Try it and then bill them!
    LOIS Nice you've dropped by again. Hope you're well and that Mr TLC is fully mended. It's awful that any of us should look at our telephones with a degree of trepidation because of unsolicited calls. I used to get it as a head of department too. Cunning booksellers would sometimes petition me during precious breaktimes and I learnt later that some of them were very good at squeezing information from reception staff ahead of their telephone pitches.

  11. I was about to write something similar after receiving several unwanted calls over the last few days, the last from someone with a sub-continent accent purporting to be from Lifestyle Survey, whatever the flip that is.

    The telephone preference service worked a treat for many years, but presumably it doesn't apply to overseas call centres.

    I am more polite than you though and I do talk to them. I tell them to eff off before putting the phone down.

  12. Tony just puts the phone down and walks away for a while thereby tying up the line for a while.I'm more polite and just say "No thanks" or hang up when I hear all the background noise.
    The calls always come up on our phone as PRIVATE as they do for people with an unlisted number and as we only know a couple of people paranoid enough to go in for these we are always suspicious when we see that type of call coming through


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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