When I was growing up in the Sixties, we had a black bakelite telephone in the corner of the living room. It had its own allocated table and chair, because that’s where you went for a quiet chat.
This heavy little piece of tech was first introduced by Ericsson in 1931, so it wasn’t exactly the latest accessory, even back then. Life was slower and people didn’t “switch things up” on the interiors front so much. Still, I loved the weight of it in my hands and the smooth curve of its cupped mouthpiece. There was the thrill of its metallic ringtone, my mother hollering, “It’s for you!’ and the hours spent whispering into it. I see you can buy them now on eBay for about £170, not that we even have a home phone connection any more. That went about five years ago.
I come from a different world – not necessarily better, just different – and without wanting to sound like an irascible OK Boomer, some days I miss it.
I miss the bizarre glamour of smoking on planes, the cathartic tap-tap-tap of a typewriter and the satisfying clunk of pushing another few shillings into a payphone. I especially miss reversing the charges on a phone call – and even just talking to an operator. “Hello Operator! I’d like to make a reverse charge call!” Now more than ever in the age of coronavirus, all human interaction with strangers is funnelled into a brief greeting to delivery drivers.
Nostalgia usually only hits us in midlife, with the benefit of perspective. Trapped in our homes, we have even more time to stare at the faces looking out at us from our picture frames, to go through albums, to clear out cupboards and connect with the past.
So much has changed. Read More…