April fish and other hoaxes

Craig Taylor is the author of Return to Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village in the 21st Century (Granta, 2006).



One million tiny plays about London #61

Old St., 2.30am. A man stands near a phone box. He speaks into his mobile phone.

- Am I speaking to a woman? What is this? A man? What number is this? WHAT?

He ends the call. He looks at the handbill that he's holding. He dials again.

- Hello. Could you tell me where you're located?

- I'm in Old Street, but...

- Old Street. Old. Street. But where are you? I'm coming to you so it shouldn't matter what I am. Where I am. I'm going to get in a taxi. Just give me the...

- OK, slowly. 42. And that's in the City? Do you tell me the...? Do we talk about how much?

- We discuss. OK. And when it says "pamper"? That's not... you know?

- It says: "You will be pampered." You know; that's not baby stuff. Diapers.

- Well, I don't need a shower.

- I said I don't need to have a shower. And it says a glass of champagne. Is it good stuff?

- Is that good? Oh nothing. Don't worry, don't worry. (He consults the handbill) And you're the girl, the Oriental?

- I said, are you the Oriental?

- I'm holding your advertisement right here that says "actual photo". It says...

- No, Or-i-en-tal.

- Well, what do you mean?

- I'm holding it in my hand here. This is the number. It's got this phone number right
on it. It's from the bloody phone booth over there. It says "Oriental". It says "Friendly" and you're not... Who am I speaking to? To whom am I speaking?

- Right here at the bottom, O-R-I-E... I have this piece of paper here. Actual photo.

- Then what kind of...? Then what are you?

- From where? (He puts his finger in his other ear.) I can't hear you.

- Like African? I don't want any...

- Russian? But that's not what it says here. I didn't call the Russian one. You've answered the wrong phone. It says: O-R-I...

- Well, you shouldn't put a phone number on an actual photo of someone else. If you're not, can I speak to someone there who is? Who am I speaking to?

- Who is... I want to speak to this one. Actual photo. And Oriental.

- Hold on. If you're putting this number out there and it's not what it says then - no you listen to me - then this is false. False advertising, yeah? Do you know how much trouble I'd be in if I did that in my job? Seriously? Hello?

- Hello?

- No, I'm still...

- I've got it. Number 42.

- Fine. I'm just saying I was expecting... Oriental is what it says right here. But... what are you again?

- Is that proper Russia or one of those little ones?

- The little ones that used to be in Russia? Belarus.

- Well. It's not exactly Oriental.

- Fine. Maybe then it could be cheaper?

I guess we can discuss. Because that's business. Because it's sort of false advertising. OK. OK.



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