"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

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Monday, 29 March 2010

No news is Good News

old phonesWhen I was a little girl there were no computers or mobile phones. Most houses didn’t even have a phone in the home and people would have to go to a neighbour or the public phone box to make calls. The one we had was like the one in this picture!! One day we had a bad thunderstorm and the phone was blown up by a lightning strike, leaving a scorched hole through the wall plaster where the wiring had been!
In the public phone box we would put 4 old pennies in the slot and press Button A if the call was answered, when we would be connected, or press Button B and get our money back if there was no reply! As a Girl Guide I remember that to get one of the various badges I had to travel a mile by Scout’s Pace, (alternating walking and running), and make a telephone call from one of these public boxes. Old phone box.I was terrified of doing this: so much so that it was prearranged for me to ring home and get through to my father or mother – even with this plan it was still a daunting prospect for me and I remember being very nervous.

Now it seems that all children have mobile phones and many appear to be more comfortable using them to talk to or text their mates than in any face- to- face social situation. I dread to think of the charges the long- suffering parents of today have to face for their kids, especially as the technology changes so rapidly and I am sure kids always want the latest gismo so as to appear cool to their peers.

Of course in my childhood communication was even more difficult from abroad, if possible at all. But then trips abroad were the exception rather than the rule for holidays. When older, and as a student, we traveled through Europe or the US on camping and touring holidays there would be no telephone communication with home. We simply sent a postcard or two and that had to suffice. Even those probably arrived after we were home!!

And well I remember in those days that just before the One O’clock News on BBC Radio 4, as we were sitting down to our family lunch, there often would be a public announcement asking for Mr. or Mrs. “so-and-so” to get in touch with a certain number because their parent or other relative was perhaps dangerously or seriously ill.

Hence my mother always used to say when we went away that “no news is good news.” Because of course if anything had gone wrong she would have certainly heard about it.

Now don't we all have too much news?


Dan said...

Letters were written...with pen and paper! People could actually have conversations!

We have all the advantages of our age and communicate less.

Eleanor said...

Oh so true Dan. And with the loss of real letters, we lose a wonderful source of social history - used by biographers and novelists the world over. But then the attention span of the average person will be only the length of the average tweet anyway?!

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