Monday, 15 March 2010

A Phone Call From a Russian

I advertise as an acting teacher in various industry publications, it is a reasonable enough source of work although most of my stuff comes through customer recommendations.

So I am used to getting phone calls from wannabe actors who either seem to be utterly naive about the industry, or far too tight to pay for my expensive but quality services (buy cheap, buy twice) or plain rubbish.

I can tell if you're a rubbish actor just by talking to you over the phone, so be warned.

But today's call was a cracker.

A Russian chap called me, early 40s, found my details in one of the aforementioned publications and then made some very vague enquiries about what I do; it felt like some kind of set-up, the voice was so thick with Russian, the vocabulary hesitant and jarring, it had to be one of my pals /racist web stalker having a laugh.

It was not.

It was one of the longest phone conversations I've had with a stranger in my entire life, the gist of it seemed to be (although it occurred at such rapid tangents I've idea if this is actually what we talked about) he wanted help to break into UK show business and was thinking about going to drama school even though he had no money whatsoever and was on benefits and wanted me to give him info on what drama schools to apply to (I hate stuff like this, if you want it bad enough, DO IT YOURSELF, stop dicking around and get the facts ya' sen) and advice sessions/acting classes. When he started telling me about how poor he was and his life issues with his wife, I knew it was time to get off the damn phone, as he was angling for free lessons.

Hell no.

When I told him how much I charge and that if he wants to work with me he'll need to come up with a clearer plan than the current rambling pile of half-assed ideas he fell silent.

I was silent, this was his cue to say goodbye.

He didn't, so I did.

A phone call from a Russian was over.


  1. Most of my domestic day time calls are from credit agencies and usually its tape recorded announcements.

    Yours sounds somewhat more interactive!

  2. Caller-ID followed by the answer machine routinely gets rid of any time wasters phoning my ex-directory number... not that anyone ever phones to speak to me (sob).

  3. When I used to be somebody and worked at the shit end of Teletext, I was the official call-minder. Basically, if anyone in our department got a weirdo call, they automatically diverted it to me for my skilful handling. Even my manager used to do this without telling me, then I'd look up and see him grinning at me like a Cheshire cat gesturing with his finger in a circular motion by his temple that this was a nutter.

    One memorable call from a lady of elderly years started off well enough but soon descended into her just insulting me for no reason whatsoever. I'd never heard such vulgar language directed in my direction and I annoyed her even more with my polite responses and my resonable "I can't help you if you are going to swear at me" type answers. The call culminated with her calling me "Tony Blair's White Nigger". In fact, I might start using that as my login.

    Another caller was a regular nutter who used to harass the satellite team who did the stuff for UK Gold and the like. He came to me and started to tell me my name, where I lived, my partner's name, and how everyone in the office hated me (citing incidents of office backstabbery that I'd supposed to be involved in) and generally trying to destroy my personality at a base level. I said to him quite calmly, "Hey I'm not here to make friends but to earn shitloads of money, something you'll never do, dear boy." That shut him up.

    Then there were calls at the weekends from the foolish who couldn't get their TVs to work or complained that the teletext pages turned around too quickly for them to read. Boy, it really broke you down after a while.

    But the peak of weird shit was when some "fan" of one of the satellite editors sent in a family photo album as a treat, which featured a lot of pictures of adults in strange poses with children. And these were real pictures, developed on photo paper (not copied from the Internet - this was before net paedos were all the rage) of real child abuse. Let's just say the police were called in pretty quickly on that one.

    Those were very strange days...

  4. It's good to see that passive-agressiveness is alive and well in other cultures than our own.

  5. Rashbre:

    Oh I get plenty of those too, bugs the shit out of me, this was on me mobile though.


    I'll call you but I can't promise I'll have too much to say.


    Cool story man, as always, you need to put that stuff up on your blog.


    Universal phenomenon sir!

  6. A woman once phoned my mobile by mistake. It went something like this (she had a really dreary voice, by the way):
    Woman: Is that David?
    Me: No, I think you've got the wrong number.
    W: Is this (she says a phone number one digit different to mine)?
    M: No.
    W: What number have I called?
    M: Not that one.
    W: Where are you?
    M: I'm not telling you where I am. It's non of your business.
    W: I just want to know if I'm close.
    M: That's irrelevant, this is a mobile, I could be anywhere.
    W: But am I close?

    This went on for a while. I don't know why I didn't just hang up, apart from that I was utterly amazed at this woman's idea that if you misdialed a number you would reach some one 'near' the person you were trying to call.
    After trying to explain that it didn't work like that I eventually said goodbye and hung up. By that point I'd become quite exasperated by her dimness.
    After about a minute my phone rang again:
    Me (tentatively): Hello?
    The Same Woman: (pause) Oh, it's you again.
    Me: Yes.
    I hung up.

  7. HA HA!

    Great stuff Rich, I could with more such tales of phone accident blues.

  8. Can't believe I forgot to mention 'Betty from the States' who used to ring our old number in Edinburgh on a fairly regular basis and leave messages. Just not messages for us. She didn't want to speak to me either (big shoulder heaving sobs).

  9. I feel your pain Highlander, pop your head on me shoulder.


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