Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: Time to hang up that superfluous house phone now

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

By Robert McNeil

Who ya gonna call? Well, nobody. Not on your landline, at any rate. According to top reports in the public prints, the days of landline phones are numbered.

Well, hallelujah. My landline exists solely for the purpose of taking calls from a number categorised as 'International', usually offering me a grant for a free boiler or some such.

A scam, of course. I have 10 similar numbers blocked - the most my phone allows - but still they come. I never answer my landline any more, so the worst of these mostly prerecorded sods leave messages. Infuriating.

Occasionally an actual human being phones up. But it's only Connor from Your Move trying to sell me house insurance. He phones up to three times a day on the mobile too. I feel I sort of know him now - even though I never answer - and wonder if I ought to send him a birthday card.

People use their landline for their own proactive purposes so seldom now that one in three doesn't even know their own phone number.

Thank God for that. I thought it was just me and worried that maybe it was time to go to the doctor for one of those tests where they ask you who the Prime Minister is. Actually, I had to think about that for a moment there. Is it Derek Cameron?

I was also gratified to read in the survey, by broadband provider Relish (eh?), that two-fifths of the punterage want rid of their landline, and only keep it so they can have yonder internet.

Another scam. As Relish chief marketing officer (ie he wants your money too) Will Harnden put it: "Despite the fact that many people aren't using their landline for its intended purpose, they are forced to pay a monthly charge for line rental on top of their broadband.

"It seems like now is time to wave goodbye to the landline."

I concluded this some time ago, but when I phoned BT - who are surprisingly aggressive about it - they offered some bamboozling explanation. As usual with my efforts to cut costs, I came away paying more.

I still don't understand these bills. You start off with something that seems to be under a tenner a month and end up paying nearly £50. It's as bad as Sky Television.

In the meantime, here's one last word for the landline brigade: Bye!

Sunday: One long game of marbles

I’ve followed the Elgin Marbles saga closely, ever since interviewing the current Earl of E in his big hoose.

I was there under false pretences, having been tipped off by a criminal informant that a sword belonging to Robert the Bruce had been nicked from the premises. Disappointingly, it hadn’t.

So we discussed the Marbles. The Earl — charming old duffer, straight out of PG Wodehouse  — had frieze casts on his wall.

They were magnificently out of place in a sitting-room in grey, wet Fife. The originals, of course, are in yon British Museum, much to Greece’s ire.

“And once again thy hapless bosom gored/And snatch’d thy shrinking gods to northern climes abhorred!” That was Byron, but is pretty much what I was going to say.

Now, Amal Clooney , wife of George, has started a new clamour for the Marbles’ return. Watch this space. Or, indeed, those ones on the Parthenon.

Monday: Sponge soaks up the attention

Sponge news, and a top scientist has revealed she has just discovered a new species.

Christine Picton, a marine boffin at Titanic Belfast, discovered a new species of the controversial filter-feeders while exploring underwater canyons off the west coast of Ireland.

The new boy has been christened ‘beauforti’, though at the time of going to press it hasn’t responded to the name nor to any sticks thrown for it to fetch.

Beauforti was discovered growing on a piece of coral in an underwater canyon.

But nothing much more is known about its life hitherto.

Observers report that it is just sitting there.

Biding its time.

Tuesday: Director develops a few bad habits

Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt has observed that his role as one of the dwarves in The Hobbit films was small.

This was inevitable, as he was one of 13 dwarves, though one of the better ones.

But he wasn’t all that was belittled in the series, whose third part comes out in December, and which I’ll be boycotting.

Director Peter Jackson did a fair job with his earlier Lord Of the Rings trilogy. We allowed that a movie had to be a movie, and not just a film of a book.

But give Jackson an inch and he takes a league. His last film (second in The Hobbit trilogy) departed way too far from Holy Writ. The movies are now all about Jackson and little to do with Tolkien.

The earliest sign was in the first film when he had rabbits pulling Radagast the wizard’s sledge. Rabbits? Sledge? Blasphemy!

Friday: New ID for cereal offender

Sugar Puffs are being renamed to play down any association the controversial cereal has with Satan’s delight: sugar. They are to be renamed Honey Monster Puffs.

So it’s all right to be associated with monsters? Why not go the whole hog — so to speak — and rename them Wicked Scary Puffs?

Saturday: Bono sheds light on shades

Bono has spoken. For many years the U2 frontman suffered taunts for wearing sunglasses in all weathers, as stereotypical rock stars sometimes do.

Now he’s revealed that, all this time, he’s been wearing them because he is suffering from glaucoma.

Well, that’s one in the eye for the Irish singer’s critics.

Talk about suffering nobly borne. I wonder why he hasn’t mentioned it before?

U2 have been getting pelters for forcing their latest album on to users of iTunes.

Oddly enough, I have iTunes but can’t find it.

Mind you, while I like the band, I wouldn’t go as far as listening to them.

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