BIRTHS, DEATHS & MARRIAGES
by Park Theatre
I enjoy a good switchboard as much as the next man: the automated selection system and synthesised Wagner are enough to brighten up any winter morning, and this is particularly the case with a local government hot line. I sometimes detect a certain wariness when I get through to an operator, almost as if I might be calling the council because I want something from them. I do, and so the game is to make me somebody else's problem. Each call is like a little tour of their extension list. 'You'll want to speak to Gary', I'm told, but unfortunately Gary never wants to speak to me. It's like my fourteen-year-old love life all over again. When I've done a full circuit of the office, they resort to desperate measures and forward me to The Answering Machine of Doom, from whose borne no message has ever returned.
Until yesterday, that is, when I received a surprise call. 'You left a long message on my answer machine', he says. 'But I'm not quite sure why you're ringing me about your theatre. You see - I work for Births, Deaths and Marriages.' Not the Arts Officer, then? He pauses and has a think. 'Arts... Arts... You know, I'm not sure that we do Arts anymore.'