If you watched the episode of Cilla on ITV on Monday night – pure nostalgia for those of a certain era – two aspects might have seemed strange depending on how much of your three score and ten you have consumed.
Did people really hang around streets waiting for the phone to ring in the red and glass box? ‘Cilla’ and her beloved ‘Bobby’ were waiting for a phone call from Brian Epstein for the chart listings of what was to be Miss White ‘s first No 1 on the pop charts of the day.
In the village I grew up in the phone box was the only means of immediate contact with family and friends. Or more importantly to we teens, to receive a pre arranged call from a boyfriend or potential boyfriend.
If it was raining we would stand inside the phone box, gaze firmly fixed on the heavy black Bakelite handset willing it to come to life. Others might begin to queue for their turn to use the phone. They’d jingle coins in their pockets, count and check they had the correct change to pay for the call and peer through the thickened glass to see if we were actually speaking to someone on the phone. We ‘d haunch our shoulders, turn our faces away from those outside and form words silently pretending we were already speaking to a caller. Handset to our ear, fingers pressed keeping the line open, we’d smile and nod pretending to be in scintillating conversation. If the phone actually rang, our ruse was revealed and often we would have to pass the handset to whomever we had kept outside waiting in the rain.
It was another era of course and a time when you would not have dared to keep an adult waiting in the rain.
IT and communications have moved on, amazingly and wonderfully, in the past fifty years or so. Even as I automatically type ‘IT’ I have moved on as that would have gained me a black mark and a dramatic red slash across any typing handed in for correction from my shorthand, typing and book- keeping schoolteacher. Punctuation was king.
Technology is king today even stretching to the world of hospital X-ray. I have had a fair few over the years and thought I knew the routine. One used to have to sit half dressed waiting until the radiographer checked whether you had moved or breathed out at wrong time. If so the whole process was repeated.
In a pristine bright room I follow the instructions, ‘arms forward, deep breath, relax,’ and I drop back into the wheelchair. Seconds later I can dress and wait to be taken back to the ward. The X-Ray has been checked on screen instantly in the radiographer’s booth. Another miracle as these IT advances mean results are so accurate and more instant than the time it took Epstein to inform Cilla, ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ had reached number one in the charts, but that was even before the era of ‘Top of the Pops.’
The religious divide, the second aspect from Monday’s programme, is for another post.