dear caller

To the gentleman who phoned me today:

Sir, thank you for your call. I appreciated hearing from you and making an appointment to meet with you later in the week. I know you were a little bemused by my careful, softly-spoken responses - but you see, I was in a library at the time, and I'm of the generation that was raised strictly to never speak above a whisper (and then only when necessary) while in a library. Granted, two other people were also talking on their phones, but perhaps they weren't trained by a grandmother whose merest glance could thoroughly silence a child no matter how excited they were at finding the latest Enid Blyton novel on the library shelves.

I probably shouldn't have answered my phone if I was unhappy talking in the library. But I don't know many woman my age who can ignore a ringing phone. That would be like saying no to someone asking for an hour of your precious free time, or a favour despite how much you have on your plate at the moment. Another grandmother of mine, if not reaching her phone before it stops ringing, will phone around everyone she knows until she finds who was the caller. (Besides, surely only a person without family could not answer a ringing phone.)

I confess, it was not really a convenient time to talk to you, as  I was surrounded by a dozen strangers who could hear every word we spoke. But I've come to understand that I'm the only person in the world who has been taught to open a phone conversation with the question, "is this a good time to talk?" 

By the way, I must warn you in advance that when we meet, you will be offered tea and biscuits. I recently was told by a visitor that I should not bother with such things, but both of my grandmothers would be aghast if anyone spent even a few moments in my home without being offered tea and biscuits. I hope this isn't a problem. I apologise in advance, sir, for my lack of modern manners. 

Yes, I belong in one of those old Enid Blyton novels I used to love when I was small. 



20 comments:

  1. i find myself nodding as I read your post. I belong there as well and truth to tell....I like it here. You will have to excuse me as I go now to look up Enid Blyton.

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    1. My first real, proper novel was The Land of Far Beyond by Enid Blyton and it made me into a dreamer, and a fantasy writer, and an absolute devotee of the written word. I later read all The Famous Five and Secret Seven, and was lucky enough to have a similar childhood, albeit without the camping on farmlands and thwarting criminals every other day.

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  2. Tea and biscuits, one can never go wrong with that. Interesting piece, greetings!

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  3. I loved reading this. Our library has a sign asking patrons to silence their phones upon entering and I always comply. I would love to be served tea and biscuits. Here on the farm we tend to offer guests herb infused water or mint tea and water we have been gathering or preparing recently. So you might get crunchy sweet fresh banana peppers from a big bowl on the table or you might be sent home with a jar of strawberry preserves.

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    1. I'd love to visit you just to come home with some homemade preserves :-)

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  4. If I mute my old cell phone, I don't know how to set it to ring again.

    Mmmmm, perhaps I would fit in an old novel tooo... -smile-

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    1. I don't know either, lol! In the past couple of years I have learned how to text, but that's as far as I can go.

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  5. if this gentleman responds with anything other than delight at the offer of tea and biscuits, not to mention Good Manners, he's madder than any march hare...

    your grandmothers sound like mine. :)

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    1. Well, I'm surprised that some people don't like old-fashioned hospitality. For example, another of our steadfast rules is to always take a little food when visiting a friend - a tin of homemade biscuits, or a cake picked up from the bakery, or somesuch - but I've had some people be so displeased with that, I've contemplated stopping the practice.

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  6. My grandmother was cut from the same cloth as yours. Thank you for making me smile in warm remembrance of Viola, who taught by example that unpleasantness was not necessary no matter how unpleasant the circumstances.

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    1. Viola, what a great name! :-) I like what the Dalai Lama says: be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

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  7. Libraries aren't what they used to be - no one seems to lower their voice any more - the librarians are the worst. Ours is full of people on computers and children running round on treasure hunts. But at least there are people in there - the councils are shutting a lot of them down to save costs - which is a crying shame.

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    1. Our libraries sometimes have music playing. And not classical music either but pop music. Every few days they have sing-along time for children, where the kids play drums and tambourines and shakers, and sing loudly - no reading of books to them any more, just music and dancing. Its heartbreaking. If children can't get storytime at a library any more, what is the world coming to? (See how much I sound like a grandmother?)

      We are lucky to have lots of libraries, and infact many of them are upgraded regularly - but that means removing bookshelves to make room for computers.

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  8. charming~

    it would be nice if all people were as polite on their phones in public.

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    1. Its especially bad on buses where people have loud conversations and one has to listen to it all - not necessarily that the conversations are wicked, but that its uncomfortable being privy to them.

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  9. Yes. Whispers in libraries. Tea and biscuits. Polite conversation. Let me add hand written letters, Please and Thank You. Cloth napkins and coasters for your drinks.
    Just sayin'.
    :-)

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    1. I'm not good at hand written letters, my fingers and wrists cause me too much pain. But everything else, yes. I am always bewildered by people who put coffee cups down on tablecloths despite having been given a coaster.

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  10. oh my, Sarah. I relate to every single word here. I chuckled all the way through this. I was partially raised by a woman born in 1911, so tea and biscuits, (and usually cake) were compulsory.

    And yes - I always ask if it's a good time to talk. Always. But many are quite bemused by the Old Ways...hehe. xx

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  11. Enid Bluton I could become lost in one of her books as a child. They saw me trough many a hospital residence and operation. I still adore children's books and still get lost in them. We always offer tea or coffee and biscuits when people visit, after all they have taken the trouble to visit haven't they? We always take gifts when we visit others. Usually my fruit liqueurs or fresh tomatoes if it's summer as now.

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