CALL centre workers should be hailed as modern-day heroes. I had this epiphany while listening to a woman on the bus bellowing into her mobile phone as she berated whatever poor soul was on the other end of the line dealing with her complaint.

She clocked me and rolled her eyes heavenwards. My death glare in return could have curdled milk.

Book-ending this unfortunate encounter was another conversation overheard a few days later. (Yup, I'm a serial eavesdropper. Or, as I prefer to think of it, a public transport anthropologist).

A bleary-eyed duo slumped into the seat in front of me. They had clearly just finished the night shift and one was recounting what is the call centre equivalent of imparting the birds and the bees.

In this case that meant telling a customer that, no, unfortunately it wasn't a computer error, someone in their household had indeed purchased a shedload of pay-per-view porn.

It is an all-too-familiar theme. I spent a summer working in a call centre. It remains one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. Reading from a script, typing in a code to be allowed to go to the toilet, being screamed at so loudly by disgruntled callers that your eyes would water.

My call handling time was abysmal. Lonely old souls would call up for a chat on Saturday afternoons and I would let them blether away about the plot of Emmerdale and what mischief their cat was up to. I was forever getting into trouble for it and being told I would never progress from billing to sales.

Meh. I didn't mind that. What I found most demoralising was the almost constant stream of shouty callers. This was the late nineties when the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, Google wasn't yet a verb and only nine per cent of UK households had an internet-connected computer.

That meant most people had to call up to deal with complaints over the phone. And this was frontline. It felt like the occupational equivalent of clamping down on a leather strap while being waterboarded for eight hours straight.

There were some lighter moments. My call centre claim to fame is that I once spoke with former footballer Paul Gascoigne. I could hear Jimmy "Five Bellies" Gardner laughing at the TV in the background.

I mentioned this to my husband who nonchalantly replied that in his call centre days he assisted country singer Willie Nelson, the late magician Paul Daniels and a Celtic player whose name I forgot in the three seconds between him telling me and putting fingers to keyboard.

Reader, we have been together for 10 years and it is the first time he has revealed this star-studded line-up. What other secrets lurk beneath? That's for another column …

Some call centre workers, like me, were transient and simply passing through. Others had worked there for many years. Rarely were we personally responsible for whatever heinous grievance had customers spitting fire, yet regularly found ourselves subjected to language that would make a sailor blush.

I would love to imagine that things have changed markedly in the two decades since I did the job, but all too often my heart sinks at the initial wary tone from a call handler as they take my details followed by the palpable relief in their voice when they don't hit with a tsunami of verbal abuse.

Here's my Sunday sermon: don't treat call centre workers as emotional punchbags. It only makes you look small.

Movie tropes

THE actor Lili Reinhart mused on Twitter last week about whether it is only in movies – rather than real life – that people splash water on their faces to quell a rising panic.

She makes a good point. But it's not the worst of film and TV tropes.

Topping my list of pet peeves are leading ladies who lotion up before bed. There they are aggressively applying hand cream, slapping moisturiser on legs or rubbing potions into their elbows with the same vigour you would use to summon a genie from a lamp.

It recently struck me that perhaps I've missed the memo. Is everyone else sliding beneath the sheets like a basted turkey?

Then there are mirrored bathroom cabinets. Door opens, person rummages and selects item – medication, toiletries, haemorrhoid cream – from one of the shelves, door closes again. Reflection then reveals a sinister figure standing behind waiting to pounce.

There are some mornings I would have to do a double take: which monstrous face is mine?

Another teeth-gnashing trope is the famed L-shaped sheets which chastely cover women from the neck down while men somehow can lounge naked from the waist up.

And don't get me started on the Straight Outta Compton-style strut where a posse of pals walk five-abreast in perfect synchronicity. Whenever I've cajoled my friends into giving it a whirl, things quickly descend into a higgledy-piggledy hellmash. It is like herding cats.

Burying the hatchet

After feuding for almost a decade there comes news that the white flag may have been waved by warring chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.

It all kicked off in 2009 when Oliver reportedly criticised Ramsay for comparing an Australian television reporter to a pig. The two went on to regularly exchange barbs, with Ramsay referring to Oliver as "fat" and a "one-pot wonder".

Oliver responded by saying that Ramsay was "a bit like going to see someone you love who has dementia who keeps forgetting and then doesn't remember what they've said".

According to Ramsay, the duo buried the hatchet after finding themselves in neighbouring holiday homes in Cornwall during the summer. They fired up the barbecue – although not before one final argument over who got to use the tongs – and a truce was forged.

Rumours that they will be teaming up for a Christmas single, getting matching tattoos and are set to join forces to help broker a better Brexit deal remain as yet unsubstantiated.