Since it's St. Valentine's Day, I'd thought it'd be good to tell a romantic story, romantic of sorts. I had a telephone stalker in Egypt. She was calling me all the way from Italy to talk to me. On the first night she called, I told her that I had no idea who she was. It seemed a bit odd that someone would be calling a wrong number all the way from Itay, and what's more, she was Nigerian. Very often in London, whenever my phone rings on a wrong number, the person turns out to be Nigerian. But the chances of a random Nigerian in Italy calling another Nigerian who is temporarily in Egypt?
Someone had given her my number, and I could just about guess who gave it to her. Even though we'd never met, she knew sketchy details about why I was in Egypt. The next time she call, I realised she was mistaken. She had this misconstrued idea that I was a Nigerian footballer. "I just finished watching your match. How come I didn't see you?" Erm, I'm a journalist. I'm here covering the Nigerian team, not playing with them. "But you're with them sha?" Maybe what I said didn't make sense. I was tempted to say, "well you see this coach guy, he's jealous of me, so he doesn't want to pick me to play." But I thought the better option was to hold my tongue, literally, feign choking and spluttering. Which I did. "You'll call me sometime, won't you? This is my number." In my haste to leave, I think I might have said "yes, I'll call."
Never tell anybody you have no intention of calling that you'll call them back. She called again the next day, complaining that I hadn't called her. I came up with the "it's been hectic around here" cliché. For the sake of common courtesy I stupidly said again that I'd call her. The next day, the phone rang. I recognised the number, so I passed the phone to Small Man, who was only too happy to entertain her. She and Small Man had a long conversation about goodness knows what. I think in the end Small Man even gave her his telephone number in Ghana. Now that is what I call industry. I think she called again once before I left, but as usual, Small Man was on hand to entertain her with cartwheels and juggling miniature pyramids. I'm back in London now, surely this is too far for her.