Telephone Calls: a garbled history

1876; the phone is ringing off the hook.
Look, not all accidents are my fault. No win no fee.
We share a party line with the woman next door,
listen in to her prank call the police –
Operator! Operator, get me Whitehall 1212.
We make reverse charge calls
to the Speaking Clock. At the third stroke
it will be – do you accept the charge?
Pocketful of change to feed the payphone
on the corner, gotta be quick, the pips
text me the number for Dial-a-Disc.
I’m sorry caller, that number is engaged.
Sitting in a cold hallway whispering
I can’t say that. My mum is listening in
on the extension. I can hear you there mum.
Alexander Graham Bell drop calls me
all the time. Sometimes it rings but no one
speaks, just heavy breathing down a crackly line.
1876; Mr Watson, come here – I want to see you.
Operator! Operator, I’d like to report a nuisance call.
I think we need to go ex-directory.

Sara Levy

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