Tuesday, 21 October 2008

21st October 2008

It has been two weeks since I left the message for Vicky at the book shop. My number is probably still wallowing in a pile of leaflets and flyers of new book launches etc. Who knows, wouldn’t it be a bit weird if someone got hold of my number and, well rang it? A reverse discarded number.

So all in all, I was waiting for Natasha to get her job before I got on to the next numbers. I decided yesterday that I could wait no longer, and I started to phone the next numbers on the piece of paper that flew through my door in the book shop.

I phoned the first number on the piece of paper.

Me: Hello is that Mrs Riches?

Mrs Riches: Yes

Me: Hello, well I am writing a book about discarded phone numbers, and I found your number.

Mrs Riches: Yes, and?

Me: Well, I wondered if there was anything you were still waiting for.

Mrs Riches: No.

Me: Ok, I’ll destroy your number, so that no one else can get hold of it.

Mrs Riches: Ok, thank you.


I was reminded of Millennium evening in London. We were standing on the banks of the River Thames waiting for the most spectacular fireworks display ever. There was to be a river of fire. A friend of mine, Big Jim, was being crushed by the thousands of people rushing to get to the river. With millions of pounds worth of fireworks going off behind him, the River virtually ablaze, Jim turned round and pronounced:

“Move back, there is nothing to see here!”

But there was nothing in the first number.

The second number went along exactly the same lines. I assured Mrs Baron I would destroy her number and that would be the end of it. There is nothing to see here.

I then received a phone call.

It was Mrs Riches.

Mrs Riches: Hello you phoned me just a minute ago. Who are you?

Me: My name is Ian. As I said, I am writing a book about discarded numbers, and yours is one of them.

Mrs Riches: It all sounds a bit odd to me.

Me: Don’t worry, I will destroy the piece of paper that your number was on, please be assured there is nothing untoward going on.

Mrs Riches: Well as long as you destroy the piece of paper…

Me: I will.

And so I phoned the next number.

It turns out it was a local estate agent. Written next to the number were the words snooker shop. I asked them whether they knew anything about a snooker shop. Apparently they are still trying to rent the shop out, and so I asked them to forward the details to me.

All seemed pretty uneventful.

I was driving home from the book shop.

I received a call on my mobile.

Person: Hello is that Ian Carpenter?

Me: Yes.

Person: Hello, this is Southend Police Station, you called a Mrs Riches earlier, can you tell me why?

Monday, 6 October 2008

6th October 2008

I received a fantastic email from Natasha.

‘Hey, i'm still buzzing with excitement! HOW RANDOM WAS THAT!!! I read your blog, i bet your happy I’m nothing like what you thought. I'm in my second year studying interior architecture and design. I moved to the UK from St.vincent and the Grenadines 4 years ago to further my education. I decided to stay here this summer to earn some money.’

It turns out that Natasha was not happy with her current part time job. She was at a bookshop in Oxford Street and had given her number to someone called Vicky. Vicky had said to her that she knows someone in Apple that could line her up with a job.

‘That brings me to the discarded phone number. Vicky a beautiful high spirited Aussie who works at the bookshop knows a Manager at the Apple store. She knew of a position that she thought i would be great for. So i scribbled my number on a bit of scrap paper the staff use to locate books.’


All that I need to do is find Vicky, and the phone number karma would be complete.

This is brilliant. I have not been so excited since I sat and watched the Mary Rose being dragged from the bottom of the sea. Although, I have to admit, it was a bit disappointing watching the telly for hours, only to be rewarded with a crane carrying what looked like a pile of mud with a huge skeleton in it.

That is beside the point.

I have the unique opportunity to bring Natasha and Vicky together. Perhaps Natasha will get her dream job in Apple.

And so, I phoned the bookshop in Oxford Street.

It rang for what seemed like hours…

Me: Hello, can I speak to Vicky?

Bookshop person: No she is not working today.

Me: Well could I leave a message?

BP: Yes, but I can’t guarantee that she will get it.

Me: Well, I met Vicky at a book signing last Friday. I am writing this book about discarded phone numbers, and Vicky was given a number by someone and I would like to get the two of them together.

BP: Hmm. It sounds a bit odd.

Me: Well, could I leave my number anyway?

BP: I’ll leave it in her pigeon hole.

So there we have it. My number is in Vicky’s pigeon hole. I wonder if she will return my call?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Sunday 5th October 2008

I did it.

I phoned the first number.

My heart was wrapped in an elastic band.

087… The number did not work.

Of course, it was Ireland, so + 353 087…

Still no response.

I tried 00353, and nothing.

All that I can conclude is that the person who left their number in the Turk’s Head in Dublin did not want to be contacted.

I had fallen again at the first hurdle.

Undeterred, I phoned the second number:

Me: Hi, is that Natasha?

Natasha: Yes.

Me: Hello, I found your number in a book shop on Oxford Street.

The conversation went from there. Natasha is a student from St Vincent and the Grenadines. She was so excited to hear from me. I asked her to send me an e-mail about why her number was left on a sideboard in a book shop in London.

Let’s see what happens.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

4th October 2008

I still have not phoned the numbers.

I have to be honest, I am a bit scared. Why would anyone take the call from a phone number they do not know? It is the weekend. People are out, doing weekend stuff. The last thing you want is someone you don’t know phoning you up.

The prudent thing to do is to wait until Monday. Maybe, lunchtime.

So I busied myself today in the little shoebox of a bookshop that I have recently opened. There I was in the shop, and a piece of paper flew through the door. Nicky grabbed it and said, ‘Look there are four numbers on this piece of paper.’

So here I am. I have six numbers on bits of paper.

Friday, 3 October 2008

3rd October 2008

Well there they are.

The numbers.

It has taken me two days to work out how to airbrush out the actual numbers.

Anyway, you will notice from the photos that the pub in Dublin was in fact the Turk’s Head and not the Saracen’s Head. You will also notice that 2008 is the year of reading.

I have not phoned the numbers yet. I think it would probably not go down too well at 11.00 p.m. at night. When would be the best time to call someone who does not know who you are?

Let’s see what will happen.

I am, however, looking forward to next year, 2009. Apparently, it is the year of Swindon.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

1st October 2008

Who does this number belong to?

Was this number left on the Bar deliberately?

The obvious solution is a Guinness fuelled romantic liaison. Why was it left on the bar? Did whoever it was given to decide that the tourist with the brightly coloured rucksack was not really for them?

Is it a builder offering to provide a quotation for building a retaining wall on overgrowing Mulberry bush in the back streets of County Wexford?

I don’t know.

But let’s find out.

I found the number over a month ago on a recent trip to Ireland. I had decided to do nothing with it. However, I was at a book launch on Friday, and I found another number scribbled on the back of some promotional material there. That is even more peculiar than finding the number in the pub. Presumably, everyone was trying to network and exchange numbers, so why leave it? Having gone to all the trouble of obtaining the number, you would think that people would have enough about them to put it in their purse/wallet, and take it home.

I am going to call these numbers to find out who they are.

Ok, I can imagine that I will receive a fairly sceptical response.

Me: Hello, I found your number at a book launch on Friday.

Number 2: And?

Me: Well, you know, I wanted to find out who you gave it to.

Number 2: Why?

Me: Well, I don’t know, I thought it may be interesting to find out your story.

Number 2: Look will you please just leave me alone, and don’t call on this number again.

This could end nowhere.

But I really didn’t think that I would apply to every job in the Guardian dated 29/9/07, and look what happened there.

So tonight Matthew, I will be ringing these numbers to find out who they are, and who they gave the number to.