Bell Ahoy!

Key's Cupboard

Imagine you have never used a telephone before. It rings, and you pick up the receiver. You don’t know that the social convention is to say “Hello?” or “Dabbler reader here. Who’s calling?” or something similar. So what do you say? One man who faced this dilemma was, of course, Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the thing, or at least got the patent on it. His preferred manner of answering the telephone was to shout “Ahoy!” This seems to me far more exciting than a dull “Hello”, and it’s a pity that Bell’s practice never caught on. It is, of course, never too late to overturn various social conventions. If we all started yelling “Ahoy!” when answering the telephone, the world would be just a little bit more pleasurable.

Bell : Ahoy!

On a vaguely related note, I take this opportunity to mention that the first ever message sent in Morse code, by Samuel Morse himself, was “What hath God wrought?”

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

5 thoughts on “Bell Ahoy!

    ian russell
    June 3, 2011 at 08:10

    I thought the first thing he said was, ”I’m sorry, I think you’ve got the wrong number.”

    Morse. You can’t beat a simple binary system. I think I’ll start sending all my text messages in Morse from now on. (It’ll probably be quicker too. I never really got the hang of it).

  2. Worm
    June 3, 2011 at 08:22

    . _.._ . ._.. ._.. . _. _ !

    June 3, 2011 at 08:44

    “What hath God wrought?” is inspired. Up there with “Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”

    June 3, 2011 at 11:33

    A capital idea! Montgomery Burns (him off The Simpsons) uses ‘Ahoy!’ when answering the telephone. Quite right too.

    john halliwell
    June 3, 2011 at 11:59

    I tried the ‘Ahoy’ greeting just before 10.00 this morning, and was shocked to hear from the caller: “Oooh, hello sailor”. And he was from the Tax Office. Never again….

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