I USED to find people with mobile phones so annoying that on seeing someone using one I would have their personality nailed — egotistical, show-off, money-obsessed, shallow city worker. Obviously.
That was in the days when phones could only be used to “ring” someone or send a text. They would never catch on. Why would people need one when they could just ring their mate from home, leave a message (people even had answering machines now!) and wait two weeks until they returned your call on arriving back from holiday to confirm they had not died?
Then suddenly you could do other things. Watch TV/films, something called YouTube, listen to music, take photos, plan a route, buy stuff. Why would you? Have you not got a TV/CD player/camera/map or any shops where you live?
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I couldn’t wait to get home, turn on the TV and head straight to my favourite Ceefax pages — 101 for news, 160 for local news, 300 for sport, 302 football, 500 for entertainment, and on ITV there was Teletext with sport on 130 and football on 140, and over on Channel 4 the music section from 440, with the highlight of my TV textual surfing a daily attempt to beat quizmaster Bamber Boozler on 152.
Very rarely did I manage to answer all 15 of the questions set by the pixilated answer to TV’s then University Challenge presenter Bamber Gascoigne, but on Saturdays his son Buster took over with some easier ones which I occasionally scored full marks on.
There were adverts. you could book your holiday, play games, find a partner on the dating page (”No sense of humour, but I enjoy sitting at home endlessly reading anything I can find in yellow text on a black background until my eyes hurt”) and follow football and cricket as it happened.
You didn’t need a phone and your TV didn’t run out of charge. Fair enough, you couldn’t carry it around all day or plug it in outdoors, so it just needed a bit of modernisation, some portability...
In essence, that’s what happened, only people who could barely use an old style phone, wouldn’t have an opinion on anything serious and certainly would not have read the Ceefax/Teletext news sections, suddenly became hooked, happily scrolling down all day long on their phones and messaging mates every time they changed status (On way to stashun... At stashun... Seting of... nierly their... LO can c u...). Or even worse gobbing off non-stop on a train, in a pub (remember them?), restaurant or shop (or modern-day equivalent — Amazon warehouse?).
At least those blokes (and they were always blokes) who felt the need to talk as loudly as they possibly could about what shares or which car they had bought while standing in a busy city centre or in a library had something to tell the world. You could hate them rather than just be annoyed. You could fully judge them rather than just tut in resigned recognition that everyone these days is doing the same thing.
The good news is Teletext still exists, although in a very limited format, so put that phone away. Actually, there’s even an app for when you’re sick of messaging your mates.
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