Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Man Dies While On Hold

Man Ends 25-Year Attempt To Speak To Council

Ray Ebbsfleet’s 25-year effort to speak to somebody at Croydon Council ended yesterday with his death, aged 67.

Mr Ebbsfleet first telephoned Croydon Council on January 8th 1982 to query the balance on his rent account. A recorded message told him “We are experiencing unusually high call volumes at the moment. Your call is placed in a queue and will be answered shortly.” So began his quarter-of-a-century vigil listening to hold music.

“He was always a very patient man” his widow Marion told reporters “And despite me repeatedly asking him to hang up, he’d just say that he’d waited this long, it seemed daft to give up now.”

During Ebbsfleet’s mammoth stint on hold, it is estimated he listened to ‘Greensleeves’ over 10,000 times and apparently knew Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ so well he could hum the bassoon part in his sleep.

While the world witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela and the invention of Cheese Strings, Mr Ebbsfleet continued to sit by his phone table, doodling on enough sheets of notepaper to cover an area the size of Knutsford.

There was a glimmer of hope in July of 1993 when the line seemed to connect to an operator briefly before returning to an easy-listening version of “Strangers In The Night”, causing Ebbsfleet to say “Hello? H-e-l-l-o?” hopefully for eighteen days in a row.

But his epic wait to hear why he was 43 pence in arrears ended in the early hours of yesterday morning when he passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.

“The strain on Ray’s body was just too much in the end” said Thompson Swift, the family’s GP. “The constant rubbing on his ear by the telephone receiver had caused a callous that looked like the Elephant Man’s elbow. And after 25 years of hearing the hold music end, expecting to be put through only for another song to start, the strain was too much on his heart.”

Ray is survived by his wife Marion and two children Press1Now and Thankyouforholding.

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