Mack’s Craic


The Age of Aquariums

Something unusual happened at home the other day, the phone rang, the HOME phone. No one ever calls on the home phone, we both use our mobiles. We were watching the telly at the time; I thought it was a telephone on the TV!

I don’t even know our phone number. In fact, apart from the on-air number I give out on the BBC, I don’t think I could tell you any of the phone numbers I call. I just go to the menu on my mobile and hit their name. Some of them don’t even have names, just pictures. If I lost my phone, I’d be in real trouble. I can’t see 118 being able to help me when I call them and start describing the person I want to talk to.

There is one phone number I’ll never forget, Penketh 5338. That’s how we used to answer the phone when my parents first got a telephone installed by the General Post Office. Back then, not everybody had one. If you had to fill in an official form or register for something you were asked, “Are you on the phone?” Nowadays with Bluetooth, if you ask someone that question, they may ACTUALLY be, “on the phone”.

The telephone was a very special piece of equipment and was given a lot more respect than today. I’m sure a time-traveler from the 70’s would be confused by someone in the 21st century telling them, “I don’t know where I’ve put my phone”. Our phone was wired into the wall and not in the kitchen or living room; it was in the hallway by the front door. The phone had its own special telephone table with a shelf for the telephone directory and a built in seat that you sat on side-saddle. My dad would never let us have the radiator on in the hallway, which I’m sure was a way to make us keep the calls as short as possible.

Of course I never made important calls from home. I’m talking about calls to girls. For those special calls when I didn’t want anyone ear wigging, I used to walk up to the phone box, which was about a quarter of a mile away at the top of the hill. The length of those calls depended on the number of two pence coins I had. A young person today wouldn’t be able to work one of those old phones. You had to put the coin in the slot but not push it in until you heard the beep beep beep when the person on the other end answered. I don’t even think they’d be able to work out how to dial the number by putting your finger in hole and turning it. They probably wonder why punching a number into a modern phone is even called “dialing”.

It’s a shame most of those red phone boxes have gone. They were bought up in the 80s by yuppies that turned them into everything from aquariums to shower cubicles. The irony is that the glass and stainless steal phone boxes that replaced them on our streets look more like aquariums and shower cubicles.

Maybe just for old-times sake, the next call I make on my mobile, I’ll connect the charger, plug it into the socket in the hallway, turn off the radiator and sit sideways on a chair.

Oh and that phone call on the home phone, it was a telemarketer trying to sell me a mobile phone.

Craic on!

Check out the Mack Nuggets at .Listen to the Graham Mack Breakfast Show Podcasts on iTunes.

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