Jackie Little: The Phone Call
The Phone Call
Scoop's Jackie Little ponders the absurdities of modern life.
Forgive me if this piece is not entirely coherent, but my heart rate has only just slowed to approximately 3 trillion beats per second and my hands are still a tad on the shaky side.
You see, it only happened about half an hour ago: The phone call that every parent dreads.
There was I, sitting industriously at the computer, with the kids, as far as I knew, happily digging up the back lawn (don't ask!) when the six year old called me to the phone.
Offering a cheery Hello, I was a bit perplexed when the woman on the other side demanded my name - I mean normally you would have an inkling, having gone to the bother of phoning a specific number, wouldn't you?
Somewhat snootily I identified myself and demanded in turn to know whom I was addressing.
"The police" came the simple reply.
Well, that certainly knocked the snooty in me for six. As my legs turned to semolina (nothing as sturdy as jelly you can bet!) and my mind filled instantly with every ghastly fate ever to befall a child, I succeeded only in croaking out a strangled "Oh".
"We've had several phone calls", the voice continued, and in the nano seconds that preceded her next words, I managed to process at least 500 different speculations as to who would be calling the cops on me.
I am a law abiding person, I don't play thrash music at top volume or smash beer bottles in front of people's houses, or rev quad bikes up at all hours of the day and night. Not that I'm suggesting any of my neighbours indulge in such behaviour - perish the thought!
What had I done? What could I have done? - is this normal or have I got some Freudian suppressed guilty secret to induce such paranoia?
The overwhelming sensation however, - how can the mind cram so much into a few seconds' experience? - was that of relief. At least if someone was moaning about me it meant the kids had not been accosted by paedophiles, squashed flat after wandering onto the road, abducted by aliens etc. Whatever it was it was NOT THE KIDS!!!
Except that it was of course.
The 111 call centre had just received several calls from a young child apparently asking for the police.
In a heartfelt frenzy of relief, gratitude and downright love towards the anonymous officer, I began to bleat on about my mischievous youngest and how it must have been him, the little scamp.
She took various notes of my address, the name and age of my hapless son, slipped in a seemingly innocuous enquiry as to whether there was actually anything "happening" in my household and mentioned an officer might drop by later - ostensibly to give the kids a kindly lecture .
Noone has called yet so presumably she was reasonably convinced I had not been indulging in infanticide.
After profuse apologies on my part for the inconvenience and once I had recovered sufficient strength to my lower limbs, I ventured outside to interrogate my little darlings.
All were immediately defensive and denied being anywhere near the telephone, although the wee girl from next door who was over to play, did admit to trying to phone her mum.
When I brought this up with the aforementioned mum (in a perfectly friendly, non accusatory fashion), she too went on the defensive, insisting the child would have no idea how to make an emergency call, so I am really none the wiser.
Not that it matters for Heaven's sake, in the light of what horrors that phone call might have brought, but I feel a bit guilty about immediately lumbering my poor boy with a juvenile criminal record before a full and thorough investigation.
Ironically, earlier in the day, the six year old had been peering over my shoulder at a press release and inquired as to what International Human Rights Day meant.
"It means I'm not allowed to kill you kids today no matter how naughty you are," I replied.
Just as well really.