Nostalgia by Robert Heaven

IT SEEMS like only yesterday that “telephones” as they were called before “mobile” was coined as the name existed only in a glass and metal cubicle dotted around the estate or Market Place, or at the end of the hallway on a table along with the Yellow Pages and a local phone directory.

Most of these things are now long gone - Yellow Pages stopped recently and I don’t remember the last time I saw an actual phone directory.

The wired sort of telephones, private and public, are rare and I read that only 46 percent of the country still use landlines.

I can remember public phones when they had a slot for coins and two large buttons on the front of the integrated phone and coin box.

One was labelled “A” and the other “B”.

You dialled the number and when the telephone was picked up at the other end you pressed button A.

Your money would then drop through to a cash box and your call was connected.

If, however, your call wasn’t answered you would then press button B and your money would, hopefully, be returned to you.

Often those days it was necessary to go via the operator.

If so, you would insert your money in the same way, then if the operator was successful in obtaining a response from the intended call recipient, she (as it usually was) would then tell you to press button A.

The operator, apparently, relied upon hearing your money drop through to the cash box - upon which she would connect your call and away you went.

Everything used to be manual back then - even the actual connections which were performed by the operator at an exchange.

Ciren had one of these and there was great fanfare when it was converted to the new thing called “digital” - some said at the time, I remember,“it’ll never catch on”…