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one telephone number

Sometimes something happens and you need to know a phone number. Just one.

I mean, twenty years ago, I knew half a dozen off by heart. Admittedly for friends who I probably shouldn’t have called quite so much for the sake of my long suffering parents’ phone bill (I’ve always had a lot to say).

I seem to remember a time when Speed Dial didn’t exist. And no-one had mobile phones. So it was either remember the phone number, or dig around for the dog-eared blue mottled phone book, crammed full of scrawled telephone numbers for the family’s nearest and dearest.

Today, I do not know one. Single. Solitary. Phone. Number.


Especially when you stride out of your friend’s house in East Dulwich (mobile-phoneless-as-its-quite-seemingly-sensibly-on-charge) into the grim grey rain to go buy breakfast supplies for the household. Turn right, avoid puddles, head down (it’s raining), turn right onto the main street, jog along, it’s wet, avoid another puddle. Yep. Lovely.

It’s okay getting a little bit wet because, soon, I’ll be cooking an amazing fry up for me and the residents of…oh, hang on. The residents of 54….54…what’s the name of the road?

Uh oh.

It was dark last night. When we came back from the pub. Slightly sozzled. In the rain (head down, avoiding puddles)….I think it was 54.

Oh shit.

I don’t know where I’ve just come from….


Okay, it’s fine.

I’ll get supplies, retrace my steps, go back the way I came. Sure my internal compass will kick in as I walk back that way.

Onward: to the Co-op.

Bacon, sausages, soda bread, baked beans (small can), mushrooms, eggs, orange juice.

Good. Great.

Would be better if I knew for sure which house I was taking it all to.

Back down the road. Now, I know the house is on the left side of the road. And I think it’s number 54. I think I’d come about this far. Do I remember that launderette?


That garage?

The A-board?  The police station? Houses with stairs at the front?  That red car? Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.

Hang on…I remember…wheelie bins. They were all out last night. I was saying about how brown was a really unimaginative colour. Purple would be better.


Strongly suspect all the houses here have wheelie bins out the front. Check two of the potential streets. Yep. Wheelie bin city.

Maybe if I just try Oli’s keys in this house. It’s a number 54. Might be lucky. Or not.

Nobody around. Try it.





I have change.

Payphone? (Why did they get rid of like ALL of them?!)

Mind you. Even if I did find one. Who would I call? Mum would probably have Oli’s mobile number. But I DON’T EVEN KNOW my own mum’s phone number off by heart. Ridiculous. In my defense, if she still lived in the old house…But nope. Nothing. Not one single telephone number in my head.

Internet cafe?

Hang on…what’s that little inviting place across the road? Captured on the Rye…?

Friendly beardy smiling face as the bell goes.

“Hi..this is pretty random. But,” (oh god…)

“I’m staying at my friends and it’s the first time I’ve been to his house, and well…I went to get supplies for breakfast and now I can’t remember where he lives”

(awkward pause as they look at me wondering what the hell they’re going to do about it)

“So, I don’t suppose one of you has a phone I can borrow to try and get hold of him?”.

A nod:

“That is random. Here you go love.”

Out comes a Nokia.  Ah okay. Bollocks.

“Oh, thank you. That’s really kind. But you see, the thing is that…”(breathe out)

“I don’t know his mobile phone number. Actually I don’t know anyone’s phone number. I was hoping I could use facebook to see if he’s listed it on there. Or at least send an ‘SOS – Lost In London with Fry Up Supplies’ message to him, ha ha!”. Blank.

I spy that the lone lady customer who is looking on in amusement has a lovely shiny iPhone.

“Erm. Sorry. But I don’t suppose I could erm, use, your phone could I? Just for a second. If I can check facebook…”.

Smile: “Of course you can. I’ve done a similar thing myself before. Locked myself out of the house at nine months pregnant, about to have a baby, in the pouring rain”.

I’ve been trumped: “Yeah, actually, that’s worse”.

A kindred spirit.

I dive into her phone’s 3G. Typically there’s no phone number listed in Oli’s ‘About’ section. Not that surprising.


Message him.

Whoa, not the Wall.

Go for the little envelope. Private message. Yep. Good.

What now? I hover over the phone.

How will I check for a reply later? Haven’t thought this through have I?


To: Ruthie Easby, Oli Bevan.

Subject: ‘Help!

Message: “I’ve left Oli’s house and can’t remember the address and it’s raining! I’m in Captured on the Rye…”

Oh. My. God. I sound like a drunk person. At 10.45am in the morning. No-one could be that stupid sober could they? (hmmm).

I can’t bear to send it.

Check facebook first, just in case.

Oooh!  Little, lovely, facebook envelope…how happy am I to see you?!

“Ha, ha! Lucky I just got my phone from the other room…”+address (it is 54. Brain not completely useless).

I’m saved!

I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so grateful that there are some lovely nice people in random little coffee shops. There’s an element of ‘Midnight in Paris’ about it. I kind of hope (in my romanticized way) that, were I to go back, it might have morphed into a little antique shop with just a whiff of coffee surrounding it.

Although, to be fair, it was still there (in the rain) this morning when I popped back in and put a coffee on tab for the nice iPhone lady.

captured on the rye

All’s well that ends well it seems. And the fry up went down a storm (just around an hour later than expected)

In conclusion, I will be committing one phone number to memory this evening. Just one. You know, for future potential disaster situations.

Might also have to start a ‘bring back a payphone on every street corner’ campaign.



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