27 June 2018

Telephones

Yorkshire Pudding's fascinating foray into the world of 
telecommunications. A three part series.

PART TWO

Old red phone box in Fenny Bentley, Derbyshire
Before the mobile phone plague struck this planet, most households had just one phone. It was almost impossible to have truly private telephone conversations because the rest of the family would be listening in.

As a teenager, I would often make use of the red village  phonebox  to achieve some measure of privacy and usually I would be conversing with another teenager - normally of the female persuasion - speaking from another public phone kiosk in a different village or town.

In 1972 and 1973 I was a volunteer teacher on a remote South Pacific island. Nobody had telephones and in fact there was only one radio telephone on the entire island for making official or emergency calls to Viti Levu - the main island in the Fijian archipelago. To contact loved ones you had to write letters even though the island was only visited by official ships six times a year.

At university in Scotland between 1973 and 1977, I mostly stayed in campus accommodation. Each block had a couple of payphones on the ground floor. If I remembered, every couple of weeks I would phone home to Yorkshire. That was my only link back to my family and of course they couldn't phone me. There really wasn't much telephoning going on in those days. If you wished to speak with friends you went round and knocked on their doors.

Not long after  I first came to Sheffield, I live in a bedsitter - nowadays a "studio" (ha!) in a Victorian house with six other residents. After much petitioning, the avaricious landlord had a payphone installed on the ground floor. This was a great boon to our lives for it meant that no longer would we have to trudge three hundred yards to the nearest phone box on wet winter nights.

I met Shirley in late 1979 and the following year we moved into a little flat together. We had no phone there so it was back to the red phone kiosks once more. In 1981 we were married - the same year as Prince Charles and Diana Spencer - though our celebrations were slightly less lavish. After a one night honeymoon in Lincoln we moved into our first house together. In fact I carried her over the threshold in the traditional manner and soon afterwards we had a lovely green telephone installed courtesy of British Telecom.

It looked just like this:-

22 comments:

  1. My response to your previous telephone post pretty much applies to this one, too.

    I have a mobile phone, but I never use it. It is just as a back-up if or when my land line phone is out of order. I charge the mobile once a week...and it stays in its case. I have no desire or need to use a mobile. I definitely wouldn't be using one as I walk along the aisles of my local supermarket! I have no idea what some people have to talk about...with their phones always stuck to their ears.

    Yes...it's okay...I'm old-fashioned in many ways. :)

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    1. Your mobile phone is like my electric carving knife - an expensive decoration.

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  2. I also married in 1981, ten days after the royal wedding.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. Dear Lady Maria - Was your prince as handsome as Prince Charles that long ago summer?

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  3. Lots of memories here. We had a red box just around the corner and I can't tell you how many times I had to run round to that box to call the ambulance for Tom, shaking like a jelly. Often there would be a queue and I would have to explain that it was an emergency.
    Myself I loved the old boxes because they had a mirror in them and I could pop in to check that my bouffant was still in place. lol

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    1. If you had been checking your hair in the mirror I would have been hammering on the door yelling, "Come on love! Some of us have important calls to make!"

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  4. We got married in 1982 and inherited a cream telephone that was, wait for it...... on the wall!! How modern was that?

    My grandfather used to say my grandmother didn't need a telephone, she could just stand at the front door and shout!

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    1. Wall phones in Lancashire in 1982? Come on Christina you have to be joking!

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  5. Oh, I remember that color green. And then there was the Harvest Gold that was so popular then. Yuck!!

    I am reminded of a time when I was helping a lady with the last requirements and the finishing and proofing of her dissertation so that she might receive her PhD in education. She was the whole education department as well as one of two teachers on a small Aleutian island. They only had a land line in the whole of the island and we communicated back and forth for a few weeks while her students listened in and giggled. And don't you know? That lovely lady, who was only a few years from retirement anyway, made the long and arduous trip to Denver to be able to attend Commencement. I love strong women!

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    1. Strong women? You mean lady boxers and javelin throwers? I remember that Russian Olympic athlete - Tamara Press - no she was very strong!

      How wonderful that you were able to assist the woman from the Aleutian Isles.

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  6. That is quite a colorful phone! I sort of miss the days of less connectivity. Being on a South Pacific island with no standard phones and only infrequently sent letters sounds, literally, like paradise.

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    1. Nowadays so many people feel anxious if they haven't got their mobiles with them - horrified if they are off the radar for just one minute.

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  7. Why do you think mobiles are vermin? Too old or too thick to work them?

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    1. You got it Adrian. Too old and too thick - that's me!

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    2. You haven't answered the first question.

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    3. This question may be addressed in Part Three.

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  8. I remember when color phones first got popular. Like Peace Thyme said, so many were Avocado Green or Harvest Gold. When I was 16 I received a Baby Blue Princess phone extension for Christmas. I loved that phone!

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    1. Does that mean that you were a princess Bonnie? Princess Bonnie has a nice ring to it.

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  9. You are a thoroughly modern man when it comes to phones except sometimes you just didn't have a phone at all.

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    1. That's true. And what about you in the middle of the prairie when you were a boy?

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  10. I was in university from 1974 to 1977 as well, and like you we had a payphone in each section of the dorms. Unlike you, though, we could receive calls. If I didn't call my mother every Sunday night (collect call, to be sure) my mother would worry, and eventually call me :)

    That is really an exceptionally green shade of telephone!

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  11. Ooh, I love the photo of the two tone green phone. I married in 1971. I inherited the house, the husband, his black Labrador and among other things a two tone green telephone just like the one in your post. Mother in law and my husband decided that a phone ought to be a priority after my father in law died here in the bathroom and they had to call the doctor from someone else’s house who did have a phone. I remember that we shared a party line with a family who we actually knew in our village who only lived a few hundred yards away. If they were on their phone and we picked up our phone to dial out, then we could hear their conversation. It took all your will power to put the phone straight down and not linger to listen to a bit more of what they were saying. They, of course, could do exactly the same thing and listen in to our conversation. Nothing exciting would be going on in a house in our small Yorkshire village. Party lines were replaced as soon as more lines could be put from the exchange to the outlying areas. Hubby thinks we replaced the two tone green phone in the late1980’s because friends used to make fun of our outdated dial phone so we updated it to a push button in one colour, boring cream. We both loved that green phone.

    My mum’s first phone was a slim line trim phone with the weirdest ring tone. Truly shrill.

    Thanks for the memories. I’ve still got the husband and the house but alas not the dog, the mother in law, who was a treasure or the green phone.

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