An unprecedented level of calls

Writing tips by Mo Fanning

Noise‘You’re getting very dark again. You need to see a doctor.’ That’s how the other half censored me as I launched into yet another tirade about how Theresa May had basically prostituted herself to the DUP to avoid having to move house just when she’d got on top of her geraniums.

And so I tried to work out for myself what might be behind this darkness. Is it the Trumps, the Mays, the lying two-faced bastards of this world? Is it the fact that nobody ever told me that self cleaning ovens leave your kitchen smelling like you had a bonfire? Two days before important relatives are due to pay a visit.

I found myself working through my inbox and came upon one of those ‘tell us how we did surveys’. I’d no axe to grind – in fact, I liked the company in question – and so I thought why not. It unleashed a chain of events that saw me glimpse behind the doors of hell. Well not really, but you know how it is when you’ve been told you’re getting ‘very dark’.

To all those companies who send out surveys that ask how they’re doing. Test them first. If your form stalls mid-way, throws up an error or worse gives me a dead link, every little bit of goodwill goes. Chances are that my ‘how likely are you to recommend us’ score will plummet. Chances are I’ll take to Twitter and like Tiny Hands on an early morning rant say something spiteful and unhelpful. Unlike him, I’ll feel bad about it later, but I have a reflection, so no surprise there.

I feel for those voiceover artists who get asked to put feeling into the phrase ‘we’re experiencing an unprecedented level of calls, so you’re on hold’. And for the poor souls who have to answer those calls, knowing that the next voice they hear has listened to unwanted music for eleven minutes.

So I went to see a doctor. Not my own, of course, because heaven forbid I try to get an appointment any time within the next ten days. If I want to see one of the six ever-changing GPs assigned to my cause, I’ve to call at 8am each day and beg for a cancellation. 8am being the time when they experience an “unprecedented level of calls”.

This spendy doctor chap was lovely. He asked the sort of questions I’d been asking myself – including why the heck are you paying me a fortune when you could just as easily get this for free? – and handed me a sheet of paper where he’d listed out the tablets I should take to make me less dark.

I’m holding off on them for a while, because I’m in the middle of a rewrite and darkness feels vital. There are scenes where you can’t see your hand in front of your face. But I want to give my characters a sort of happy ending. If I’ve been reading romcom, I’d feel tricked if the leads didn’t at least snog. They don’t need to waltz down the aisle and start planning a family, but maybe suggest that there’s hope.

And that’s where I am now. Suggesting hope. Because no matter how dark you’ve been getting, I hope you’ll find a shaft of light to get you through – and if not, go online and order better lamps. Just don’t phone. You might end up behind an unprecedented level of calls.

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