The Telephones of Olden Days
You may not recognise it if you're what is technically known as Young.
But this, dear reader, was a telephone.
One that was very like it stood on our hall table when I was a child. The one in the photo's slightly older than ours - I took the photo at Bletchley Park so I expect it's a wartime phone.
In those days you picked up the phone and spoke to the operator, and they put you through - - that's if they could find anyone else who actually owned a phone that they could put you through to.
Ours, being more modern, had a dial on the front. In those days there were letters as well as numbers.
So as a child I would ring York - 0Y04 78796 and the Communist would answer.
"Blass and Fisher Chemist's, Acomb."
"Mum says could you bring us some soap and shampoo, please?"
"Okay, that's fine. Got to go, I've got a queue of customers."
(Mr Fisher was the Communist's business partner but died when I was quite young. His ghost hung around for years. Whenever a sales rep tried to get the Communist to stock something that he didn't fancy, he would always say he couldn't possibly stock it as Mr Fisher wouldn't approve.)
In those days, talking on the telephone always had a slight air of importance and mystery. Calling anyone at all was quite something and calling long-distance was a big thing. To some of my older relatives, it still is.
In 1983 we stayed in Ireland and the call box's phone number was Allihies 5. Now that's a proper phone number. I rang my parents to say we'd arrived safely and it was still rather amazing talking to them from so far away.
In December 2008, the last proper conversation that I had with the Communist was from the Kennedy Space Centre, a place he had always longed to visit. He was in a nursing home. I was ringing him every day from America, even though he wasn't ill at that time, because you never knew, did you? I stepped out of one of the exhibitions and just thought "My Dad would love this!" and rang him to tell him about it, and he loved hearing about it.
The next day he got the virus that turned to pneumonia. So I'm so glad I rang him that day.
I love being able to get emails on my Blackberry now, and I'm certainly not one of those people that thinks it was better before we had mobiles.
But young people these days - ohhhh! I sound about a hundred and three! - will never experience the sense of occasion that used to come from picking up the telephone and dialling the number.