NEW PHONES: It required a visiting teenager to explain what to do

By Bill Russell in today’s Scottish Review

Living through a period of change is really difficult. It was bad enough moving from typewriters and call boxes to computers and mobile phones, from the radio to television, and from listening to the gramophone or record player to things plugged in one’s ears. To be honest, moving from sitting-up all night on trains to visit places in Europe after being seasick on a cross-Channel steamer to flying all over the world was one change I took to like a duck to water. I have given up driving, so electric cars are not going to be a problem in this brave new world, but my new digital voice telephone is the latest change to discombobulate me completely.

BT, in its generosity, has decreed old landline phones will no longer work unless plugged into a computer’s modem and I have been given digital voice phones which need to be charged by plugging them into a power point. They gave me three of them when I asked about getting the adaptors which would have allowed me to use my other two old extension phones. They were free, unike the adaptors, so I accepted them unaware of the need to plug them in. No house has enough power points for essential things that have to be plugged in like kettles, toasters, lamps, slow cookers, so they were not quite the bargain they seemed.

Inevitably, the instructions neglected to explain how to answer a call. People who write manuals live on another planet. I could make one but could I answer one? It required a visiting teenager to explain what to do. How do they know? So now I have five telephones, one old style plugged into the modem, three digital voice ones placed where I could find an unused power point, and a mobile.

I imagine the Victorians confronted with the train, the people who first got Mr Crapper’s equipment, and those given the first car to drive had much the same problems in getting to grips with doing things differently – but at at least they had a choice in the matter. BT just dumped the phones on me. Who needs five telephones?

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