In Philosophy, Words

Woman with loud hailer

Do you talk to yourself? Apparently it’s perfectly normal and can serve a number of purposes. It helps us to organise our thoughts, motivate ourselves, process negative emotions and overcome loneliness.

But do you ever talk to yourself in funny voices and make up strange sounds and languages? And do you say things you’d rather nobody else ever heard? Hmm, not so easy to admit, is it? Apparently that’s a sign of mental illness, though not always. Anyway, here’s a warning for you.

We have a really bad phone signal at home. That in itself is a warning for anyone who’s planning to ring me at home. It’s so annoying, cold callers slam the phone down on us. Apparently we’ve been blacklisted by the local ‘breathers’ association. For reasons I won’t go into, we no longer have a landline. OK, I will go into it because it might help someone else avoid the same nightmare.

We used to get our phone with our broadband but then I changed the broadband because it was pants and got mobile broadband from O2, which is still pants but better than the old broadband. It didn’t come with the landline option so I thought, well, they’re switching off the analogue land lines in a couple of years, I’ll make do without a landline. That’s the forward-thinking thing to do. So then we were reliant on our mobile phones but the ee signal at home is even more pants than the old broadband was, so we’re always getting cut off in the middle of calls and I’m always getting sworn at for cancelling the landline.

When I tried to reinstate it I learned that, in cancelling it, I had cast our phone number into some sort of administrative abyss, from which it can never be retrieved, so even if I got a new landline, nobody would ring us because they wouldn’t know our number.

I mention this to give some context to the main warning, coming up now.

I was out driving somewhere and I thought I’d take the opportunity of having a decent phone signal to make a phone call. I decided to call a bloke who had emailed me offering some musical equipment. I’d never spoken to him before and I thought it was the type of call I could just get in before I reached my destination. He wasn’t there so I left a message and then turned my attention to organising my thoughts and processing my negative emotions.

First up, I had a heated conversation with myself about the landline fiasco and let out a few soothing expletives. Then my mind turned to some worrying responsibilities I had coming up and I did the therapeutic burbling funny noises thing that helps to ease my anxieties and get my thoughts in order.

Finally, I moved on to motivating myself over a creative venture I’ve got going on with my wife at the moment, titled Care the Musical – a warts’n’all tragi-comic operetta (think Tarantino meets Gilbert & Sullivan), based on our experience of looking after my 93-year-old dad for the last couple of weeks.

So I started singing a few lines, playing with rhymes for ‘cochlear implant’ and ‘mattress protector’ and brainstorming song titles like Elastic Changes Everything and Luck Be A Motion Tonight.

True to form, after all this random burbling my head cleared, my thoughts and anxieties formed an orderly queue and I became acutely attuned to my surroundings. I noticed that the car radio, which had cut out when I made the phone call and left the message, had not come back on. “Strange,” I thought. And then a metallic voice came out of the speaker: “30 seconds of recording time remaining.”

He hasn’t called me back yet. I suspect he never will.

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