So, last weekend was ‘the weekend I actually went to Cambridge.’ As opposed to ‘the weekend I didn’t go to Cambridge,’ which was unfortunate but is now water under the bridge.
Whilst I was there, I had the pleasure of seeing various friends and on Saturday evening I was on a bus in to town to meet someone for a drink. As the bus passed the end of his road I thought I would give him a call to see if I should get off the bus early and walk the remainder of the way.
“Hello?” said the voice on the other end of the phone.
“Hi!" I said, in a manner which suggested that my friend would have seen my name on his mobile and know it was me. “I was just wondering…”
“Hello?” came the voice on the other end of the phone.
“Hi!” I said again, assuming that the noise of the people on the bus had drowned me out first time.
“Who is this?”
At this point I started to become a little confused. It didn’t sound like my friend, come to think of it – I’d blamed the background noise, but now I wasn’t so sure. My mind raced, wondering if he was with someone else and had passed the phone to them, for some reason.
“It’s…er…James,” I stammered.
Maybe my friend was putting on a funny voice, I thought. It certainly sounded as though the person on the other end of the phone was deliberately over-pronouncing things.
Anyway, in the heat of the moment I went for the ‘someone else has answered the phone’ theory and said “can I speak to Tom, please?”
“I think you’ve got the wrong number,” came the response, and I heard someone else in the background. Yes, this was definitely a wind-up and that was his girlfriend giggling away.
Meanwhile I paused, slightly panicked. If I hung up and then had to call Tom back I would have found it very embarrassing. But it was all very convincing, and I couldn’t bring myself to say something like “very funny, Tom.” It was like a game of chicken. Who was going to cave first?
I did. I broke the silence.
“Maybe I have got the wrong number,” I said, slowly, carefully, uncertainly. This was Tom’s moment to laugh, to give the game away, and to answer my question before the bus passed his stop. But there was nothing, so I followed it up with “I’ll go then, bye.”
I hung up, and considered ringing him back.
And then I realised that my phonebook had gone awry and I’d not called his mobile, but his landline. The one at his old house.
Embarrassment set in, even though the person I spoke to has no idea who I am, and I swiftly took steps to delete the landline number….
6pm. Magdalene Bridge, Cambridge. I have alighted from the bus and am waiting for my friend Tom. I don’t know if I am in the right place or not, and I have just deleted all his contact details from my phone.