Someone called the other day while I was lying around in bed at about midday – that's me, always flat-out. I assume it was the same guy who called a few years ago and described with some precision how he was going to stick a knife in between my third and fourth rib and laugh while I died in front of him. I said, "Who is this?"
Someone who disguises their number. Pretty much the only time I get calls where the screen reads NO CALLER ID are from this guy or the police. I prefer it when it's the police. They generally have a pleasant phone manner and even when they get riled up – I don't know what it is, I just seem to have that effect on people – they don't get carried away with homicidal fantasies.
Someone who has a Scottish accent. Or pretends to have a Scottish accent. A Scottish accent is the easiest accent in the world to impersonate; most of our attempts are probably a gross and maybe even offensive travesty of what a Scottish accent really sounds like and don't take into account the many rich and interesting dialects but anyone can do it. Although maybe he actually is Scottish. This isn't really helping to narrow it down.
Someone who doesn't like me. Yeah, could be anyone. All journalists are hated at one time or another in their careers and sometimes for very good reasons. It's an inexact profession. Journalism doesn't tell the whole story; only God or Tolstoy can do that. Things get missed out, things get mistaken and, just as damagingly, things can be rendered with absolute accuracy.
Someone who doesn't like my writing. Now that's getting personal. I take my writing very seriously and a critique hurts more than attacks on my character and the way I lead my life. My character and the way I lead my life ought to be attacked. They're impulsive, scandalous, unreasonable; also, I couldn't care less what anyone thinks. You can slander my name all over the place but don't you step on my blue suede prose.
Someone called the other day and expressed that he didn't like me or my writing and was generally upset that I'm alive. I fall into terrible spells of melancholia but I'm generally happy to be alive. My health is sound as a bell and I have a lot to look forward to – my daughter, my garden (the broad beans I planted a few weeks ago are coming along nicely), my book that I'm reading (Madame Bovary is a masterpiece), my girlfriend, my work (I long to make sentences that might melt the stars but settle for tapping crude rhythms).
Someone who left two messages on my phone about three or four years ago. I hoard things; I kept the messages. Both are quite brief messages and a little bit cliched but they make their point. The first call seems to be made at a pub or a party; there's a blast of music and lively chatter in the background. He says, "Braunias! If I get a clean shot at you, I'll f***ing take it." He didn't actually swear in asterisks, that's just Herald style. The second message was made without any background noise. He says, "Braunias! You're a dead man walking. A dead man."
Someone who managed to get through some time after that and made the specific remark about ribs, a knife, etc. I was dozing in front of the fire late one night when he called to inform me of his ambitious scheme. It's a bad look; every time he phones, seized with violent rage and a fulminating desire to commit murder, I'm half-asleep, dreaming my life away. But I thought it best to notify the police. They tracked the number to Australia. Australia! They didn't take it any further and he hadn't called again until the other day.
Someone called. He said the usual things. I said, "What's your name, mate?" And then he hung up.