anything at all," an elderly friend told me yesterday.
He was walking past with his dog and had stopped to look at the three daffodils that appeared on Saturday. We got around to talking about the Census.
He'd had a phone call on Friday, from someone claiming to be from the ABS. They were offering him help with filling out his Census form.
"Sounded very, very convincing too. He told me all the right things, even gave me a number I could call back if I was concerned he might not be genuine. It was the right number too. Even the name was right."
The two of us talked on a bit. We talked about the "roofing" men who had been around last year - or was it the year before? There were at least four of them in the gang. They claimed they would do an "inspection" for free and offered "cheap" roof cleaning and repair services. I remember them well as the one who accosted me got quite angry when I told him to get off our property.
And we had another one from the "Microsoft Technical Department" the other day...telling us there was a problem with the computer. There have been problems with the computer - but not the sort any non-existent Microsoft Technical Department can fix.
The man I was talking to has encountered both these - and others - as well.
He has never been taken in by any of them. He also goes along with, "if it sounds too good to be true then it is too good to be true".
But the Census one was never going to get him. Yes, the number was right and the name was right. Anyone else could perhaps have put the phone down and made a call thinking they were checking - and apparently there is technology which can, unfortunately, re-route such calls.
No, the problem was entirely different this time. The caller had rung someone who used to work for the ABS. He knows the ABS never phones people in that way and that the name he had been given belongs to a former colleague, recently retired.