Telephone life

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All of a sudden there seem to be a great many new things to worry about. And no, I don't mean Saddam Hussein or Kosovo - or even the latest trolley trend. I have no time to worry about such things since a woman from British Telecom rang to say that I did not have enough friends and family. "That's rather personal," I said, wondering for one wild moment how she got my number. "No it's not," said BT woman. "It's just that you need to have more friends and family for your discount."

Now that sounded innocent enough. Hah! What followed was enough to keep the anxiety dreams going for weeks. "So who is your best friend?" she asked. I spluttered. Best friend? My seven-year-old has best friends - almost all of whom she hates on alternative days - but I didn't realise I was supposed to have one too. "Do I have to have a best friend?" I asked, hopefully not too defensively. "Well, most people do," she said. "Because of the discount you see.

I saw. Now don't get me wrong. I do not have a shortage of friends - at least I didn't until BT called - but I just don't like the idea of picking one out. BT woman sighed. She said my best friend need never know.

Well, I simply didn't believe her. I wouldn't put it past BT to ring up my "best friend" and ask her why I wasn't listed as her best friend.

"Now what are your friends' numbers?" she said. I listed them from my address book. "Anyone else? You've got three more slots." At that I almost told her it was perfectly normal for divorced people to have fewer friends and family than married people. Then I got a grip. Why was I even talking to this woman? She already knew far too much.

But evidently not enough. She wanted to know about my favourite country - what would happen if I said Libya? - and then we went through the whole thing again with overseas numbers. I put the phone down feeling distinctly queasy. Surely it's not right that BT knows more about me than any of the friends and family on my list. I think I'll ring my best friend to tell her all about it.

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