I received a telephone call the other day.
It was a cold call but I was in good mood with nothing urgent to hand and the young girl on the line had a beautiful voice so I imagined she was beautiful to match. She may have been as ugly as the back of a bus but a bloke can dream?
She wanted to do a survey. It was a genuine MRBI poll so I said what the hell and told her to fire ahead.
We went through some very vague questions about myself such as my age and what county I lived in. I was prepared for probing questions that could compromise me in some way but there were only one or two such as asking my annual income bracket and my employment, so I let them go and answered reasonably honestly.
Then she hit some weird stuff and asked whether I had bought anything for the garden in the last week. That wasn’t a simple question as she had sub-divided it into whether I had bought any bulbs, hardy annuals, shrubs, deciduous trees, coniferous trees, garden implements, patio stuff and a load more and I had to answer yes or no to each one. That took a while but it gave me the opportunity to crack some jokes which made her laugh.
Then she said she wanted to ask some questions about Operation Transformation.
Now this is a ghastly programme on RTE where families volunteer to be filmed losing weight and being unmercifully nagged into getting fit. It is blatantly obvious that it is designed to “inspire” us all to do likewise. So these families are prepared to humiliate themselves and be filmed living their lives and being nagged as to how unfit they are. It is staggering what some people will do just to get on television.
Anyhows, back to the survey.
She asked me how often I watched Operation Transformation. I replied never. There was a long silence. She wasn’t prepared for this one as she queried my reply. “You never watch the programme?” she said in utter amazement, “May I ask why not?”. We had obviously departed from her script at this stage and had wandered into virgin territory. Apparently I am the only person in the entire country who cannot abide the thing. I told her because it was a reality programme and a) I didn’t want to waste my time with subliminal Nanny State nagging and b) I didn’t see the point in watching idiots being humiliated. She was stunned.
So we then had to wade through a load of questions about the programme because it was part of her script. So I don’t know who sponsors the programme. I don’t know who advertises during it and I certainly was not inspired by it.
She was a bit shaken after that part of the session so we chatted while she regained her confidence. She then got onto a section about advertising. What advertisement stood out in my memory from the last few evenings. I replied none. Again this stumped her. Ah, come on, says she, you must remember one? I told her that I mute all advertising sound and had developed a visual trick of ignoring completely every thing during an ad-break. She didn’t understand this. She refused to believe that I could watch a series of advertisements without actually seeing any of them.
At this point the poor girl was close to tears. I felt sorry for her. She begged me to remember even one advertisement. She pleaded. She implored. In the end I said Guinness. She calmed down a bit and asked what struck me about the advertisement. I told her I only said that because it was my pint of choice, and that I couldn’t remember anything about any advertisement. I doubt that was one of the expected choices.
In the end she thanked me for my cooperation and my time. I told her to mind the wind [it was at the height of our latest storm]. She laughed.
She had a lovely laugh.