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Is that you, hen?

Glasgow's four-page memorandum on how to respond to telephone callers has caused much amusement in staffrooms and school offices.

The direction to answer calls in a positive and polite manner and speak clearly, "without mumbling", prompted one secondary teacher to moan: "It is a sad day when they are not employing people who already have these skills."

The stipulation that a phone should be answered "certainly within five rings" rang a wrong number with the office staff in one primary school. "How do you do this with the heidie screaming down your ear for information, a child bleeding all over the plac, the entry buzzer buzzing and someone impatiently knocking on the office door?" Answers to the central switchboard supervisor on 0141-287-7008.

The guidelines proscribe the use of slang and "derogatory or patronising terms such as 'mate', 'dear', 'pet' or 'love'." But strangely there is no mention of another traditional Glasgow term of endearment.

So it is ok then for female callers to Ken Corsar, the education heid bummer, to be welcomed by a cheery: "Good morning, education department. How can I help you hen?" In the case of male callers, that greeting would, of course, change to "Jimmy".

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