That '˜strange beeping thing' was my teenage lifeline! '“ Verity Lush

What has become of that ancient form of communication, The Landline? My youngest daughter came and found me in the garden last week to tell me that '˜something next to the TV has been beeping'.

Friday, 27th July 2018, 1:24 pm
Updated Friday, 27th July 2018, 2:29 pm
Verity used the house phone so much as a teenager her mum put a payphone in her room!

I did what all good parents do when they are engrossed in a task and are interrupted by what appears to be meaningless waffle, and ignored her.

She obviously had an inner sense that mummy was distracted and not fully engaging with her momentous news because she was back in no time, and she'd investigated further.

'˜It's that phone-type thing next to the TV. It's been beeping.'

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Seriously. '˜That phone-type thing'? I spent most of my teenage years on that.

I knew the numbers of all my friends off by heart, could probably have dialled them in the dark, and eventually had a small payphone in my bedroom that you had to put coins in to make a call. Remember BT itemized phone bills?

My mother does, thanks to me.

It didn't matter how long you'd spent with your friends, you could always find something more to chat about, and did so most evenings.

Fast forward 30 years, and my daughter barely knows what the landline is.

The only people who ring them are your parents '“ and even my mum rarely bothers with it nowadays.

You used to be taught how to answer the phone nicely and then, due to it ringing several times a day, you put that skill to good practice.

Whereas my kids are so shell-shocked to hear it make a sound that they retreat with fear as though it's growling at them.

If they do pick it up, they bark '˜HELLO WHO IS IT' with barely a pause for breath, let alone greeting.

What is this contraption that you make us answer?

Why is it attached to leads when surely all of life is wireless?

Which leads me to wonder, why am I paying for a landline? I haven't even looked into not doing so, but the instrument of my childhood is clearly redundant.  

All hail the mobile and texting. 

 

Halcyon days before Simon Cowell ruled the airwaves

Aside from landlines, so many things from our childhoods disappear without trace or memory, until something jogs us.

I had completely forgotten the ice creams you could get in the 1980s. Remember the big pink foot on a lolly stick? Or the red ice lolly that was shaped like Dracula?

Even board games such as Screwball Scramble, the Game of Life, and of course the Rubik's Cube.

There was a newsagent in North End near the old Woolworths where you could get pick n mix boiled sweets, and obviously Woolies itself, where you could buy singles on vinyl, back before MP3s and Simon Cowell killed off the Christmas Number 1 and when mobile phones were only dreamt of in the movies. 

 

Do you remember when neighbours were friends?

It struck me while looking back at old photographs that there were very few cars on the streets.

In photos that were taken outside my parents' 1970s home, the cars parked are few and far between. 

This must have contributed to my abiding memories of the 80s  '“ playing in, and crossing, the roads from a young age.

Street parties were easily organised due to lack of traffic and neighbours still actually spoke to and knew one another.

The older one gets, the more nostalgic one is for times that have passed.

The sense that those times shall never come again is akin to loss, and myriad moments that are now held in memory alone.