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Letter From England 2: Communication

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Now when I was younger and in all honesty that was a very long time ago, people used to talk to each other. I mean they did it face to face and you could tell by the expression on the face of the person you were talking to what their reaction to your words, was. Now I know the British are regarded as a bit standoffish (snooty) but by and large we are reasonably chatty (talkative) especially with people from other countries. Mind you I don’t think Meghan Markle - the new (apparently to become part-time) princess who’s been a member of the Royal Family - for at least 5 minutes - shares my view!
Nowadays this sociability has changed. People tend to communicate by tweeting. I do find that word very funny because to me it always suggests the sound that birds make. And when you hear that the most powerful leader in the word (I am talking of D. Trump of course) has tweeted, it all sounds slightly pathetic. The other method of communication is by email. For some strange reason the usual way to start addressing someone was with the word ‘Dear …’ but with emails we all start with the two letter word ‘Hi’. Before emails it used to be handwritten letters. All well brought up children in my day had to write letters to Auntie Florence or Uncle David thanking them for the ‘lovely’ scarf/tie/book they had for birthday or Christmas. You had to be very careful to use your best handwriting and make sure you got the spelling right - no spellchecker in those days.
I suppose the most irritating aspect of today’s communication comes in the shape of telephone calls from organisations which refuse to say who they are. They can be recorded messages that for example tell you Inland Revenue (The Tax Office) is asking you to pay a large sum of money for underpayment of tax or sometimes someone with poor English informing you that you will now lose your connection to the Internet - all naturally complete rubbish.
Most recently I became very annoyed when I spent about 45 minutes in total trying to phone my local branch of a very large chain store - famous for its high reputation for selling high quality goods. Some years back you phoned your local branch using the local code and number in the expectation that you would actually speak to a receptionist at the shop who would then transfer you to the appropriate department. Now that’s all stopped. Your call is then transferred to a Contact Centre, which could be based for all you know in Sri Lanka, Sydney or Shanghai. And it goes without saying that there are a number of choices - Press 1 for .. Press 2 for … Press 3 for … and so and so on. Needless to say there is never anyone or anything that answers. You have to listen to mindless jingles (musical sounds) and messages telling you how important your telephone call is and how much your business is appreciated. I can tell you I’d love to press button number ?? and say something like xxxxxxxx but I’ll leave it to you to imagine the words I would use.
Author: Alan Townend, UK