I got a mid-afternoon phone call that I wasn’t expecting. The guy said, very cheerily and chattily: “Hi Jacqueline, it’s Neil (I think he said) from Unicom. It’s been a while. How are things with you?”

Um, okay, I said, casting furiously about in my mind whether I had published the last complaint I had had from a retailer about Unicom and which mag it had been published in and whether I had discussed it with Neil.

“How are you?” I ventured.

I’m paraphrasing now as I did not take notes. He replied, “Oh great. We haven’t spoken for a while and I’m going to be in your area tomorrow so any chance I could drop in for a chat? Are you in all day?”

Then I twigged. “Phew,” I said. “I thought you were ringing to complain about the coverage that I have given to Unicom in the magazines I work for.”

This took him aback, too. “That’s a new one on me,” he said, just as cheerfully. And he rang off. I subsequently thought, hang on, I should have agreed to the visit to see how the sales patter pans out, but sadly he had withheld his number so I couldn’t ring back.

But at the beginning of the call, I seriously thought we knew each other. A natural-born salesman, Neil. •