Saturday, 12 February 2011
I remember when all this was fields.
Twenty years ago I was standing in a pub near Liverpool Street Station in the financial sector of London. A bloke walked in, obviously a city trader type with striped shirt, red braces and smoking a cigar.
He pulled a mobile phone from the pocket of his expensive looking overcoat and stood it on the bar next to him.
A big, brick-like thing with an aerial sticking out of the top, mobile phones were not a common sight back then.
Go back another twenty years to when I was a kid and if we needed to use the phone then we had to go over the street and ask to use our neighbours.
I remember my brothers and I trooping across the street behind our Dad to Mrs Hilary's terraced house and her opening the door wearing the green housecoat she always wore, letting us into the hallway to the telephone table.
There stood the only phone on the street, one of those big black Bakelite jobs with the dial and the handset so heavy you could kill someone if you hit them on the head with it.
We would stand gazing in awe as Dad would spend about 5 minutes dialling the number then speaking into the handset in his special, posh telephone voice.
I'm not getting misty eyed about the past or saying things were better then, they would have seemed better to me as I was a kid with none of the worries and responsibilities of being an adult.
What I am trying to say is how different the world seemed then.
Our television was black and white and everyone had a choice of three channels, BBC1, BBC2 and ITV.
Programmes started with kids television at three in the afternoon, then the news, then light entertanment followed by documentaries, chat shows, plays or football.
Then at midnight the National Anthem was played and the screen would go blank until three the next afternoon.
The good thing about there only being three channels was that most people would have been watching the same thing, Morecambe and Wise or Star Trek so in the playground next day everyone would be talking about it.
If you missed a programme then you had better hope they repeated it because there were no video recorders back then.
We have all become used to technological advances so quickly that it feels as though we have always had this amount of choice and can't imagine our lives without it.
However it only takes a powercut to strip us of our technology and leaves searching the darkness for matches and a candle.