"Who are you trying to call?"
I looked up. I really shouldn't have done. This was a music lesson, and everybody was making such a racket that it was a wonder any speech could be heard over the din. Our music teacher, who had basically had enough, was hiding behind the whiteboard; I was at the grand piano working on my tune. Most other people had keyboards at their disposal, but - as I was working on my own as opposed to in a pair - I took the piano.
I wasn't a fan of the girl holding the 'phone to her ear. I had nothing against her, but she had proved herself to be rude, conceited and spiteful at points. I didn't really walk in her circles, but she was in my class, so we occasionally crossed paths. It was clear she didn't like me. Very few people did. By contrast, the girl who'd asked the question was somebody I did like. Not as much as she liked me (if the rumours were true), but she seemed genuinely pleasant and, while I had never exchanged more than a few words with her, they had all been good ones.
"Who are you trying to call?"
Calling a sex line? At age 14? In the middle of a school lesson? Was I supposed to do something, seeing as I appeared to be the only one who had heard? Unable to look away, but unwilling to stop it in any way - wanting to see how this scene played out - I stayed where I was, tuning out all the chords people were playing and concentrating on their conversation.
"Hey, big boy," the girl holding the phone said. "I bet your cock is hard for me. I want to give you a cunt sandwich."
Yes, she genuinely did say that. The above line of dialogue is in no way fabricated - I was shocked by the filth that was coming from her mouth (and I also suddenly wanted a sandwich). Still reeling from the C-bomb she'd dropped, I almost missed the fact that she'd snapped her 'phone off and was swearing softly to her friend.
"What did he say?" her friend asked.
"He worked out that I was a kid, and he said he ain't got no time for kids," she replied mournfully. (Privately, I agreed. Once we were all past 16, anything seemed OK; I just wasn't sure this was appropriate at the time.)
"Hey you!" came a shrill voice which, I realised, was the voice of her friend - quite a distinct one; even over a rather basic Nokia you could have told it wasn't the same person. "I called up only wanting a bit of sexy fun, and you hung up on me! I'm gonna kill myself!"
"I think he's hung up again," she said in a slightly conspirational manner. "I don't understand... what are we doing wrong?"
"Maybe we should try ag..."
Three dramatic chords rang out across the classroom. Not wanting to start any confrontations, I had decided to take action. Whether or not they were too young or in the wrong place or time to be making such a call, I was starting to feel sorry for the poor sex worker getting harangued on the other end of the line.
"That's not part of your advertising jingle, is it?" asked our teacher. "It sounds more like something from a silent suspense film."
"No, Miss. I was just warming up," I replied, following up by actually playing her my advertising jingle, a masterpiece of talent that rhymed "biscuits" with "risk it" and "cool" with "fool". This was the '90s: I was allowed.
"Oh. That's quite good," she lied. "I'll go around and listen to some more, and then we'll do the recording, shall we?"
"I think they're finished," I said helpfully, pointing to the students sitting the furthest conceivable distance from the girls on the sex line. She drifted off to talk to the boys in question, breezing swiftly past the girls, who hurriedly stowed the 'phone in a bag and tried to look busy.
The fact that they managed to come up with an advertising jingle in the remaining time was, frankly, nothing short of amazing... although, as I reasoned while making my way to lunch to (finally) get a sandwich, they may have already finished writing it before the lesson started. They evidently needed something to do in the meanwhile.