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TRISH TAKES FIVE: Are you hanging on the telephone?

By Spalding Today Columnist

Are you a landline lover or does the thought of having an actual conversation with someone bring you out in a rash?

Figures show that between 2012 and 2017, time spent on landline calls dropped from 103 billion minutes in the UK to 54 billion minutes.

A recent study by Ofcom suggests a generational shift, with older people preferring to talk and younger people keen to use messaging apps.

Hanging on the telephone...
Hanging on the telephone...

I think I have my feet in both camps. I make use of the landline to have daily chats with my mum in Newcastle but much prefer texts, emails and messages to make arrangements with friends or instigate contact with businesses.

I can’t imagine not having a landline, though I do appreciate having a handset I can wander around with: so handy to chat and empty the dishwasher at the same time.

Remember the days when phones were attached to walls or placed in the hall on neat telephone tables, complete with a faux-leather padded seat? Comfy but so restrictive.

My mum recalls in the 1960s, my brother would always act up whenever she was talking on the phone. He would take all the cushions off the sofa and jump in between the rubber webbing. As the cable didn’t stretch far enough, she resorted to taking a sweeping brush in the room with her, to give him a poke whenever he started his shenanigans.

I also remember many households had party lines. I’m ashamed to say I listened in to one woman tell her friend about the baking she was planning to do that day. As she was about to hang up, I shouted down the line, “I hope Mary likes her rice pudding.” Mary’s mother was incensed at this infant stalker and my mother wasn’t best pleased either.

Without mobile phones, we always had to keep emergency 10p coins at hand when we were away from home.

Many a night I would be queuing outside a smelly toilet of a phone box in Newcastle, waiting my turn to ring my dad to ask for a lift. Often we agreed I would just let it ring three times and he’d get the message, rather than waste my money.

When mobile phones were introduced they were a novelty but they were ridiculously big. Dougie and his GP colleagues at Moulton surgery had a huge brick of a phone, with three huge batteries. They had a system of keeping one in the phone, one spare and one on charge.

Dougie once drove from Whaplode to Moulton with the surgery mobile sitting on the car roof. It didn’t budge an inch because it was so heavy.

My husband prefers to believe it was a testament to his extremely smooth driving style.

Things have changed so much since the days when all family members would rush to pick up the phone, hoping it would be for them. Now we hear the ring and it’s seen as an intrusion. We don’t want to talk to anyone. Thank heavens for answer machines. Leave a message - I’ll text you back.

Read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk

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