In yesterday’s Dollop I mentioned my friend trying an unsuccessful prank call on me, which involved him playing the sounds of howling and telling me that he was in a forest being chased by wolves. He had just downloaded a phone app that could play various background sounds to the caller. This prank however failed for a number of reasons. Firstly, the sound effects might have been realistic, but he hadn’t thought to pant or run, so it was clear that he wasn’t being chased. Secondly, it seemed ridiculous that if he was in a forest being chased by wolves, he would choose to ring me. There are few phone calls that are going to help you if you’re being chased through a forest by wolves, but I’d imagine that the emergency services might be of more practical use than me. If he was calling to declare his last words, then, again, I seemed like an unlikely choice; surely he’d be more likely to ring his parents. Plus, it was in the middle of the day, and I’d only just seen him a couple of hours ago. Where the bloody hell had he managed to travel to in that short space of time, where there are wolves roaming around the place? When I’d last seen him a couple of hours ago, he was on a train to Newcastle. I mean, that’s one hell of a diversion.
So, as phone pranks go, that one was very poor. I was doing better pranks than that when I was at school. For instance, I once successfully impersonated one of our teachers, and rang up a student. I say “successfully,” it was essentially its very success that lead to its failure.
My voice had just broken. It happened in a rather spectacular fashion. It wasn’t a fluctuating thing, like with a lot of my classmates, where their voices would vacillate sporadically between Barry White and Barry Gibb. Oh no, mine seemed to just go, and then stay gone. You might think that this is preferable and less awkward than all those weird vocal fluctuations experienced by my peers, except my moment happened at a rather inopportune moment.
I was standing in front of hundreds of people, children, teachers and parents, in the school hall. It was the Christmas concert, and I had been chosen as the person to be the chorister who opened the proceedings with the traditional solo verse of Once In Royal David’s City. Up until the point where I began to sing on that fateful evening, there was, so far as I can recall, no indication of what was about to happen. A hush descended, and I began to sing. Well, I’m not sure if “sing” is at all an accurate word to use. IN fairness, the first line wasn’t too bad. It was a little croaky but at least it was in tune. But then, my voice suddenly, and very surprisingly, plummeted in pitch. So, rather than singing the line, “stood a Lowly cattle shed,” it sounded as if I’d chosen instead to do an impression of the cattle inside said lowly cattle shed. And “lowly” was very much the operative word, given my dramatic drop through the octaves. Despite the children’s stifled giggles, the teachers shushing the children, and the parents awkward and uncertain throat-clears and embarrassed, mild, murmurous laughs, I continued, before the rest of the choir eventually took over the second verse, with the rather fitting words, “he came down …”
Sean thinks that I’ve ripped this story off from the Simpsons, and reckons that this exact scenario occurred with Bart. I am convinced that I have never seen this particular Simpsons episode, however I suppose there is a chance that I’ve somehow got confused and saw this Simpsons episode and misremembered it as an event that happened in my own life. If this is the case then I am sorry for wasting your time. D’oh! However, I suppose there is another explanation. Maybe there was a member of the writing team on the Simpsons who just so happened, for some reason, to be present at a Middlesbrough primary school’s Christmas Concert, witnessed my embarrassing performance, and incorporated it into the Simpsons. I should be worth millions now, and never have to work again, and thus I’d have no reason to hang around with Michael and Sean. But alas, I’ve been ripped off!
One positive thing about my new-found voice was that I discovered that I could now do impressions of certain adults. There were a few other blind people in our school, and one day when one of the younger blind students were walking through the corridor, I hollered at him in the voice of Mr Smith. “Tuck your shirt in Jonathan,” and Jonathan was jooped, and said “sorry sir.” I was rather surprised and pleased by my newly acquired skill.
A few days later, a plan formulated itself, and I executed a phone prank, pretending to be Mr Smith. But, it is getting rather late, so I shall regale you with that story in tomorrow’s Dollop. Until then …