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Monday, 12 October 2009

Spare Chinns

So there I am - Sunday evening, vegging out in front of the idiot box, when the phone rings. I answer it.
After a brief pause, a woman says "Is that Mr Chinn?"
Wary that this is another of those damned cold-callers, I reply, "Yes."
"Mr Michael Chinn?"
"Yes - who's this?"
"Lorna." says the woman. I don't say anything at this point - but my mind's going: Who? Lorna? Lorna who? "Lorna Chinn," she adds - just to make things more confusing.
"Who?" I finally get to say out loud.
"Your niece - Lorna!"
At this point my brain goes into overdrive, and I'm beginning to think I've accidentally stepped across into some parallel dimension. The woman's still talking, saying something about how difficult it's been to get my number. I didn't doubt that for a second.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I finally get her to stop. "I don't have a niece named Lorna."
It's her turn to pause - I can just about hear her muttering something about being given the wrong number.
"Have you got a brother?" she asks.
"No." Which is true.
"Of course you have - I recognise your voice!"
So now not only am I supposed to have a niece I've never heard of, but a brother I've never met in over fifty years. And apparently I'm the one who's confused.
I'm getting irritated by now, say one last time: "I don't have a brother," and hang up.
But it left me a little shaken. Who was this strange woman who was so insistent that I was her uncle? Was it a genuine mistake (I've had people with the same surname ring me in the past to ask if I knew this or that relative of theirs), or a bizarre hoax call? Someone ringing in the hope I'd offer personal information that could be used for identity theft? (Call me cynical).
I did a 1471 a little later, and wasn't surprised to find the caller hadn't left their number. That in itself isn't proof the call wasn't on the level - but it didn't help calm my suspicions.
But it left me wondering: is there someone out there - a Lorna Chinn - trying to find her uncle and just got this grumpy bastard instead.
Must be a short story in there somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking about this. Maybe because it's weird to see someone other than me claim to be your niece.

    I found it really funny, if not rather interesting as well.
    And it makes me think of all those Murakami books you're so nice to give me for special anniversaries of the like, he uses this type of everyday situation but finds a million different stories, desires and messages behind them.

    The whole weird randomness of it all and the overload of cynicalism, yet the actual possibility of there being someone really looking for someone keeps nagging at me.

    This makes me want to write again.
    I think I will.
    Race you!!!

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