Briiiiiing briiiiiing

Growing up, we had an old BT cream phone. We used to rent it from BT and it lasted ages. I think we got rid of it in the end – why? – to update it not because it had broken.

We had a phone just like this and it never broke down. Sniff.

I learned to dial numbers on it, and remember clearly being able to dial my father at the restaurant he worked in and what a rite of passage that was. But those were back in the days when every number didn‘t consisted of double figure digits and led you to an automated answering service, “press one for blah” etc. Dial phones just aren’t practical anymore.

I had two, an old black Bakelite that I paid ridiculous sums for and which lasted not very long. And then I bought a 1950’s cream one (“the sort of thing Grace Kelly would have used to call her beautician on,” my boyfriend said) from some ludicrously overpriced retro shop in Islington’s Upper Street. I just recently started using it for the following reasons:

1) I was sick of cordless phones lasting a year and then not being able to hold a charge anymore

2) The beauty of a cordless phone is also its downfall. It moves, and I could never find it. Yes I know you can ‘page’ it, but I just spent ages looking for it and in the end I thought if there were ever an emergency, I needed to know where the phone was. Quickly. I kinda longed for the days when the phone was static, in the hall, on a table with a notepad next to it. Oh those were the days, etc.

3) The smaller cordless phones get the harder it is to chat on them AND do anything else, you can’t wedge them between shoulder and jaw like the big old handsets of yore.

But it became apparent very quickly that this beautiful object (objet) just wasn’t cut out for anything other than calling local folk using six digits only. And I do have plenty of those to call. But anyone else and it was highly laborious. It sounds lazy, dunnit, but dialling the eleven numbers most mobiles now have took ages, especially when I misdialled. You could also never tell what number you had just dialled if, like me, you forget between dialling and the person answering… As I said above, calling companies with an automated service was out (you could use a mobile, but still) but the biggest pain was not being able to use the Call Minder function so easily. You had to say “one” instead of just pressing it.

It was not hard work however, and I forgave it because of the wonderful ring it had, and I just loved it.

Then it stopped working. When did phones become such lightweights? I mean I grew up with my old home phone. It was used by my mother to call the doctor when I was three, and had mumps. It was used for hundreds and hundreds of phone calls to Italy. And it was still there when, as a teenager, I made several pointless calls to my friends (“whatcha doing?” “Nothing, you?” “Nothing” etc etc). And my father read my exam results down the phone to me when I was sixteen and in Italy being chased by boys over a very long, very hot, very exciting summer (Italy won the world cup! It was Zoff’s last World Cup!) in 1982.

We need a landline. And I just can’t buy a new, cordless, anonymous, non-long lasting stupid cordless phone that has twelve million features that I don’t need, not to mention storing numbers so that I end up not remembering anyone’s numbers anymore. So I looked for a 1970’s phone. Lordy they cost! I found this one which is just beautiful, but I’m not spending £70 on a phone just because it’s pink.

Beautiful isn’t it? I bet Lady Penelope had one.

I was tempted by the original 700 series (as seen in cream, above). I wanted a wall mounted one, such as I used to see in American sitcoms (mom would be making brownies and the lead would stretch for half a mile), but they are very rare and expensive and probably don’t last because they’re very rare and have been used and reconditioned twelve million times. In the end I went for one with a mechanical ring (check out the ring here) but with push button facilities. This means it’s a reproduction but hopefully it will last longer than a haircut.

This is wot I got in the end. Will report back.

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