Monday, October 25, 2004

Talking telephone numbers

While I consider Billy's photo request ("I would like to see what inaminate object in your home has the most sentimental value") which is, as predicted by the man himself, "doing my head in", I thought I'd take a break to consider some of the issues faced by an urban chicklet (that's me, by the way) trying to live in a small town in the West Country.

I've only ever lived in cities before now; mostly capital cities (London, Cardiff, Brussels) or as good as (Lyon - that's French for, say, Birmingham I guess!). Then there was Southampton - a fair bit smaller, but still very much an urban sprawl.

So now I find myself in Taunton, where I have a six-digit telephone number (wow!), where I can walk from one side of the town to the other in half an hour. If I walk 15 minutes due North from our house, I will find myself, essentially, in the countryside. The town is very compact and ends abruptly. Buses are few and far between. Train connections are surprisingly good though - we can travel to London in 2 hours and directly to many major destinations in England, Scotland and Wales.

One thing I find around here, which may or may not be related to the "small town" mentality, is that people cite their telephone numbers without giving the STD code. Ever since the London code was split (starting with 081/071 and two more changes since then), I've been quoting all telephone numbers in full. Even more so given the fact that many cities have changed their codes recently, plus mobile phones also require the full number to be dialled, regardless of whether the caller is within the same code area as the call-ee. Yet here, on a number of occasions, someone has cited a six-digit phone number and expected me to know firstly that they're in, say, Yeovil, and secondly that the code for Yeovil is... erm... whatever the code for Yeovil is. There are loads of different codes in use in quite a small area round here. Why not be clear and just give the whole number, then there can be no confusion?

The whole thing just feels so old fashioned. It reminds me of when I was growing up in the seventies, and my mum used to answer the (grey, standard issue BT) phone "Larkswood 4186" - Larkswood was the name of the local telephone exchange which gave rise to the first part of the telephone number. That seems like a long time ago...

Blood pressure

I returned to the Doctor's surgery last Thursday for another (futile) blood pressure check. As if the result would be any different... it was (and I quote) "scarily high" again (thanks Doc, you really know how to make a girl feel at ease). This time they did an ECG as well, which proved at least that my heart beat is normal. So tomorrow, in an attempt to discover whether or not the hypertension is "white coat" (i.e. induced by my Doctor phobia) or sustained and indicative of something else (*shudder*) I shall be mostly wearing an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for 24 hours...

Anxious? Moi?

*deep breath*

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