Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Public telephones

are apparently going to be a thing of the past. The telecommunications people are advising they want to be rid of them.
You do remember public telephones don't you?
I have childhood memories of telephone boxes. They were bright red boxes. The paint was shiny, fire engine red. The inside always smelt of stale cigarettes - and worse.
As a "Brownie" I had to learn how to make a telephone call from one. I was barely tall enough to reach. Putting the coins in was a major achievement, so was dialling the number. I passed the test, along with a good many others. 
When we moved back to the bush there were no Brownies so my mother gave away my uniform (or, more likely, sold it) and threw out all my badges because "you won't need those again". I can't remember which badge I had to do the telephone test for.
There were no public telephone boxes in the bush. If you wanted to make a telephone call and you didn't have the telephone yourself you went to a neighbour who did or you went "down the shop" which was also the Post Office and telephone exchange. Telephone calls were also, relatively speaking, very expensive to make. 
By the time we returned to the city the old red telephone boxes had disappeared. There were metal and glass monstrosities in their place. They had "swing" doors that you had to push hard on to get in or out. They were definitely not "disability friendly". I had to make more than one phone call for a friend in a wheelchair who could not access a public telephone. There are still a few of those around. One is outside our local shopping centre. I suspect it has been left there because, once in with the door shut, some of the heavy traffic noise is cut out.
The swing door sort have largely disappeared in favour of a sort of hooded affair. You have the option of coins or cards. Not all but some have been lowered for small people and those in wheelchairs. 
But all these things are disappearing and now they want to remove them all.
     "People have mobile phones now."
Really? Yes, perhaps many people do. You can be "got at" all the time. The telecommunications people see them as a goldmine. They have encouraged us to believe we need to constantly accessible. It isn't "safe" not to be accessible or to be able to access. We need, they tell us, to have expensive "plans".
A small fortune awaits the company which can provide a very  basic mobile phone which (a) cannot be lost or stolen or go astray, (b) does no more than allow people to phone each other , and (c) does not cost the earth to use.
 I just wish they had kept all those old red telephone boxes - and cleaned them thoroughly each day.


Anonymous said...

I want one of those phones you described!

I don't want a mini computer which I have to strain my eyes to see through the finger marks you make finding your way around the thing.

I want to be able to make a quick call in emergencies ... calls to discuss what I am growing in the garden or what I am going to wear to the wedding I will do at home.

Jodiebodie said...

I think the First Aid badge required a guide to use a public telephone in order to fetch help.
I'm concerned about all sorts of people in the community who may still rely on public phones. If the utilities become much more expensive the next things to go from our budget will be Internet and phone (we have cut back on so many other areas already) and we'd be relying on the phone box around the corner. I didn't have a phone in my home until the mid 1980s as we couldn't afford it until then so I grew up on using the local public phone and could manage okay with that. Now that the authorities want to take public phones away, there goes that fallback plan in our budget. Someone out there wants us to have a very difficult time, don't they?