"If you wish to leave a message for Nigel, Clare, Pascoe, Perran or Carenza, please do so after the tone.”
I was never quite sure about that outgoing message - thought I sounded rather Hyacinth Bucket posh.
We bought our current phone system at the same time as we moved into our family house. There were four handsets so that we could always find one. Except we always couldn’t, so in the end we pulled the old phone down from the loft. With the handset attached by a cable it couldn't migrate up to the children's rooms.
Over the years, one handset had been entirely disabled as the result of an inaccurate lob from one end of the sitting room to the other : "It's for you. CRASH."
On the other sets, sections of LCD screen had ceased to function making the numbers we dialled appear like the dingbats round in pub quiz. One set has lately started wheezing like an asthmatic as it strains to recharge its worn-out batteries.
Did we need to replace the landline phones at all? Well they do provide a last resort for friends who can’t reach me any other way. So we agreed to replace the phones only to be faced with a new Empty Nest rite of passage. The outgoing message. If a friend who is fed up of waiting on the doorstep rings now, what they will hear is merely, "If you wish to leave a message for Clare or Nigel, please do so after the tone.”