take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

We're talking telephone numbers 

Big jabbed at the landline phone, somewhat confused. Ordering the Chinese was not as straightforward as he'd hoped.

"I don't get it..."
"How come I have to dial the whole number, including the code? The restaurant is in Southampton too..."

I raised my eyebrow at him. I knew exactly what had happened: he, like so many others, had fallen into the trap.

"What number were you trying to dial?"

He showed me the menu and the six digits he'd been trying.

I nodded, both smugly and knowingly.

You see, Southampton numbers, like London numbers, have eight digits. The code for Southampton (and incidentally, for Portsmouth and surrounding areas) is 023. Just 023. Not, oh please not, 02380. Ugh, it makes me feel slightly nauseous to type that because it's just wrong wrong wrong.

Our home number is 023 80xx xxxx. The number of the Chinese takeaway is 023 80yy yyyy. So, if I wanted to phone a Chinese takeaway in Southampton from my landline in Southampton, I would dial 80yy yyyy. If I want to phone my consultant, who is based in Portsmouth, I would dial 92zz zzzz. It has been this way since 2000 and is really, quite simple.

Big is new to Southampton, so I'll let him off this time...

Unfortunately, people are so used to having five-digit area codes, they just refuse to comply with this régime. It is often not their fault, as businesses in the area are not consistent in how they print their telephone numbers.

The same is true in London. The code for London is 020. End of. If I'm in London, phoning someone else in London, I will dial an eight-digit number. So if people cite their London number to me in the form "0208 [pause] xxx [pause] xxxx", not only will I roll my eyes at how ignorant they are, but I will also secretly write it down as "020 [space] 8xxx [space] xxxx" with an air of superiority.

Because, for some reason I've yet to ascertain, it matters to me. In my defence, though, it's not just me...

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