Mrs. Monk is telephobic. She is afraid of the phone. When she hears the phone ring, she freezes in fear of what might be said. We have an answer-phone which places a shield against would-be damaging messages, such as calls from her agency that may have an offer of troublesome work, or the dentist who might scold her for canceling an appointment, or worse.
But if we do get calls, and no messages are left on the machine, and we get the “We do not have the callers number”, message on the 1471 service, Mrs. Monk will spend hours wondering just who that was on the phone. In due course she would give up wondering just who it was and then begin the process of inventing disastrous events, the news of which she had missed due to her telephobia.
She would soon become firmly convinced of some awful misfortune that would mean the end of life as we had known it. Not only will she not answer the phone, but she will fight me to the death, in order to prevent me from answering the phone.
Usually if both of us are in the house, I let the machine do the answering. It is easier that way. Accordingly, a number of annoying anonymous 0870 calls were not answered, and Mrs. Monk’s suspicions were aroused over a period some months, torturing her with uncertainty and stretching her invention of potential doom beyond beyond.
One afternoon Mrs. Monk was not in the house and the offender got through to Mr. Monk.
The answer-phone nevertheless kicked in and recorded a surreal conversation with a lady salesperson, selling indeterminate goods.