Friday 2 August 2013

Oh, Telephone Line...

I spotted this (possibly rather depressing) article on the BBC last week - Do We Still Need The Telephone?
It makes for an interesting read about the history of telegraphs, switchboards and telephone networks and then just at the end of the article, sneaks in a couple of short paragraphs about how no-one needs an office landline, or indeed any landline any more.
Old telephone
I found the article rather sad, I think it would be a huge shame if telephones in some shape or form didn't exist anymore. I'd make a guess that lots of us have fond memories of the old red telephone boxes, even if we no longer use them; and plenty of teenage girls spent hours pining by their parents telephone wondering, "will he call?" over their latest crush.
I actually wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the telephone - back in the late 1940's my grandmother was a switchboard operator for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board in Liverpool, working in one of the 'Three Graces', and my grandfather worked for Post Office Telephones (what became BT).
They met over the phone, had a sort-of blind date (they hadn't met each other, only talked on the phone) and the rest, as they say, was history.
Grandmother worked in the building on the right hand side
I remember many a time spent huddled in a red phonebox with my mother, 'checking in' with my grandparents when we were on a long holiday and even nowdays, in my office we still have lots of potential students from all across the world ringing us with questions because they want to speak to someone human.
And that's the key with a phone call, sometimes you just need to hear a real voice and not read written words. Many intonations in tone and volume also can't be conveyed by an email; for example, they always say you can tell when someone's smiling on the phone and I think that's absolutely true - I always make sure to answer my phone at work with a smile.
Old telephone
I don't know - perhaps I'm just a dinosaur!
What do you think? Have we reached the end of the telephone's useful life?


  1. Ahhh my lovely city - Andy works in the middle building on the photo :)

    1. I agree, it is a lovely city. My grandmother grew up over the Mersey in Rock Ferry on the Wirral but she worked in Liverpool and during the war, I'm sure she was over there dancing with the GI's! :-) x

  2. The story about your grandparents is so cute, blind dates already excisted back then, that's funny!

    Even though I'm not a big fan of calling people I haven't met before, I can't imagine where I'd be without the phone, or better said, landline. It'd be weird not to hear the phone ring every now and then. And it'd be VERY annoying to only talk to robots and not be able to ask a real person a question over the phone.

    1. I know, it's strange to think that blind dates happened back then as well!

      In my job, I have to speak to people from all around the world and it's great fun hearing all the different accents and thinking of someone hundreds of miles away connecting with me here in the UK! :-) X


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