This article is taken from Stand 229, 19(1) March - May 2021.

Stuart Henson CHAncery 8800
There’s an answer: it’s a woman’s voice. She says: ‘Chancery double eight double O’ and after the slightest of pauses, ‘Corbett & Sloman’. I wait for her to add ‘How can I help you?’ but she doesn’t. So I say something stupid like ‘I think you just called me’ and she says ‘Oh, yes. We can do you tomorrow. Or Thursday if it’s more convenient.’

And I say, ‘I’m sorry?’ and she says ‘Am I speaking to Mr Woodgate?’

‘No,’ I hesitate. ‘I…’ and it goes dead as we rattle into the darkness, like owls. Dayblind.

There’s a bloke sitting across the aisle wearing a T-shirt that wants to SHAFT THE SYSTEM and he’s staring at me so I leave it for a bit. When I do finally check the call log it’s ‘unidentified’, as usual. And after that nothing except an e-mail from TicketWeb for the rest of the journey.

Then I can’t get to sleep at night, thinking about the woman from Corbett and Sloman. You get a lot of random stuff that’s supposed to be filtered out, but this one hadn’t sounded like a call centre, and the voice—it was, well… a little bit norfLondon but clipped. Not your usual Lianne or Alison. More what the social commentators describe as ‘aspirational’. Have you ever had a picture of someone from just the way they sound? Like a DJ or someone. And then when you actually get to see them they turn out to be nothing like you imagined? I start off thinking of her as a plain-Jane in a Marks & Spencer’s trouser suit with ...
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