A nice man phones me from British Telecom.
He asks why I no longer purchase my telephone calls from them.
I tell him that my Internet Service Provider gives me free UK phone calls without any restrictions.
Do I pay them a monthly fee for this, he asks.
No, I tell him. I pay them nothing, apart from my normal internet fee.
He asks if I am happy with this arrangement. This is a question that almost demands a sarcastic reply but I don't give one because he's only doing his job.
Thank you and goodbye, he says.
As a 'Come back to BT' pitch it has been a dismal failure.
But this is one reason that BT's profits are dropping like a stone and why they are now increasing their line rental charge which we must all pay (unless we use cable), regardless of whether we use BT for our phone calls.
It demonstrates what an absurd mess privatisation of telecoms was.
BT retains a monopoly of the landline infrastructure and the responsibility of maintaining it. But they struggle to compete with other companies on the cost of calls. As they continue to lose customers, we can expect the cost of line rentals to go on rising. Then more and more younger customers won't bother with landlines at all but just use mobiles.
It would be better if the landline network was state-owned and commercial call providers paid a fee to use it. Line rentals could be substantially reduced. They do, after all, impact most severely on those least able to afford them and on the elderly for whom landlines are a lifeline.
He must be doing something right, then.
There can be little long-term benefit from these promotions by newpapers because most people, like me, will grab the goodies and never buy them again. But it was interesting to see how little the tabloids have changed since Keith Waterhouse wrote his famous book 'On Newspaper Style'.
They still speak a language that almost nobody speaks in real life, in many cases imposed by the space constraints on headlines. So 'friends' are always 'pals', the police always 'quiz' people and 'children' are always 'tots'. In many stories they are 'tragic tots'.
They also have the strange habit in their editorials of writing the final paragraph in italics and underlined. But these days, for many of us, the instinctive reaction of seeing underlining is to reach for a non-existent mouse and click on the link.
But they don't do this on the online version so there the final rhetorical flourish goes unemphasised. That's a pity. So here, with proper emphasis, is an example of the Mirror's wondrous wit and wisdom:
"Having the family pop in to see your new home is a ritual and the Obamas are no different.
Except when the relatives leave the White House, a US President doesn't just have to tidy up - he's got a world to run."
How can a humble blogger compete with quality like that? This small gem of insight is only slightly undermined by the fact that a US President doesn't actually have to tidy up and run the Hoover round. Not even a President as down with the people as Obama.