Monday, October 13, 2003

Grey matters....... but green matters more .....

09068 444444 ….. "Thanks for calling ‘Who wants to be a millionaire….." So starts the Chris Tarrant auto phone response for the TV show, ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ (Well, I do, obviously)

I’ve rung that number so many times my index digit can do it on air ‘phone. Ever since the very first trailer came on our screens I’ve been obsessed with the power and glory that the show promises – oh, and the cash ….. always the cash.

It got to such a pitch, I even used to practice my ‘I’ve won a million quid celebration’, now to do a grass splash dive – or maybe a ‘strongman pointing to the sky’ pose……. Or even sticking my shirt over my head and revealing the message on my vest – ‘I hate you Tarrant, you smug tosser – now gizz the cash".

I reckon that over the years, I must have ‘phoned to get on the show at least 500 times – probably nearer to 800. That’s a hell of a lot of Tarrant to listen to. I’ve tried answering the phone prompt questions and registering my details in various regional and ethnic accents to try to take advantage of any positive discrimination policy they may have. I’ve also done posh, common, spivvy, divvy and jaunty. All to no avail, the ‘Tarrantino’ has never rung me back.

I know a couple of people that have got on the show "Ohh yes Alfie, I just rang a few times, they rang back, I got the qualifying question correct and ‘bingo’, I was on." Then I ask them why didn’t they ask me to be one of their ‘phone a friend,’ friends?

"Sorry, never thought"

"But I knew the 4 grand question you went out on. I knew that the first British woman to climb ‘Everest’ was Rachel Stevens……. I bloody well knew it. I could have got you up to 8 grand at least …… TOSSER!"

"A tosser with 4 grand in my pocket!"……

I don’t ring quite so much now, not since I was perusing the printout on my ‘phone bill a few months ago. "Geez, what the bloody hell is all this then? There must be 80 quids worth of premium number call fees here". As any dutiful, pissed off father would, I lined my kids up and asked them which one had been making the calls. Everyone swore their innocence. "Paaa!" I scoffed, scoffily…

"I scoff at your pathetic efforts at any feeble minded attempt at weedling out from your guilt. Someone has made those calls – and I intend to find out EXACTLY who it is. Then I will deduct it from your pocket money. Do you think I was born yesterday? Do you think you could get away with it? …….. I am going to ring the number – and if the voice at the end of the line is giving out advice on computer game cheats, how to get girls or advice about pimples – there will be hell to pay"…..

And so I tap, theatrically tapping the number out on the hand set – funny but it does seem vaguely familiar……

I wait for the connection, the tension is barely bearable ……. "Thanks for calling Who wants to"…. I ring off.

"Right, this time, THIS TIME I will let you off"….

"Well, who was it?"

"Never mind, it doesn’t matter – just sod off, all of you"

I thought I had got away with it, unfortunately, my youngest son knows all about the redial facility on the handset ……

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