The other night we came home to find a very strange message on our answering machine.
“There is a naked man in my garden,” spoke a child-like, slightly-accented, other-worldly voice that sent shivers down my spine.
“Who the hell is that?” my husband asked.
I had no idea. So we listened to the message again. And again. And the more we listened to it, the eerier it became. Like the “Have you checked the children?” phone calls of slasher films past.
Anyway, after a brief investigation, it turns out it was just a text message my mother had accidentally sent to my landline (instead of my mobile). And that the message was actually “There is an echidna in my garden” but the automated voice programmed to speak the text out loud had rendered it “a nekked na”, which sounded very much like “a naked man”. Trust me on this.
Now, we are no strangers to such verbal confusion in this household. For a long time, a toddler Mr Justice maintained that the trains of Sodor were managed by the “Fucking Roller” (aka “The Fat Controller”). And Tiddles McGee has, on more than one occasion, run around the house shouting “Fucky Fuck!” but thanks to the accompanying internationally-recognised hand gesture for a duck, I’ve been able to tell shocked onlookers that of course he’s quacking and not pretending to be his mother, say, on the school run.
And so it is little wonder that my mother’s spoken text message got me thinking and we all know how dangerous that is. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could have myself good old fashioned prank phonecall fun with that automated voice. You know, the Noughties Equivalent of ringing a random stranger to ask them “Is your fridge running, sir? Well, you’d better run after it!”. And yes, thirty years on, I can tell you I’m still laughing about that one.
And so I thought I could start sending prank texts to people’s landlines. For example: “Suck my big one”. Which I could then claim was supposed to be “Sack the Bhagwan”, even though he’s been dead for almost twenty years and quite possibly beyond the reach of any existing labour laws. Or I could resort to texting my favourite misheard lyric of all time “You might as well face it you’re a dick with a glove” and say I was merely quoting Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”. Or I could pass “You Arse Clown!” off as “U.R.’s Crown!” or “Boobies!” as “Boo! Bees!” or “Bum Breath” as, er, “Bun Breadth”… But still, imagine the possibilities, peoples. Imagine…
And in case you’re wondering, next time I see my mother, I’m totally checking the SENT box on her mobile phone to see what she really texted me. As if I’m not onto her and her little mind game. Ha! An echidna in my garden, my R’s…