Between 2012 and 2017, time spent on landline calls plummeted from 103 billion to 54 billion minutes. Over the same period, mobile calls rose to 148.6 billion minutes as our phoning habits change.
I remember when my family didn’t own a phone. If you wanted to talk to someone you had to physically go out and meet them. To describe this, we used the archaic term “socialising.”
If you had a potential date, you’d give them the number of the local phone box, set a time for them to call it and wait outside, hoping nobody was doing likewise on a Friday night.
Without a phone, you’d have no idea if you had a date or not until you’d miserably waited outside the chip shop for an hour and they didn’t arrive. But at least you could console yourself with a pie.
With our family spending more time in phone boxes than Superman, my dad finally succumbed and installed a house phone in the least private place in the house – the hallway.
Oblivious to the notion of romance, every night I’d hear my elder siblings whisper: “I can’t say that, I’m in the hallway, someone might hear,” making me think they were all teenage spies.
My mum always adopted a clipped, posh telephone voice that we’d never normally hear around the house, which she’d clearly borrowed from Lady Penelope. It was as if having a home phone gave her status and social standing.
Also, she would strangely, always answer the phone by saying her name, full address and telephone number. Luckily, identity theft hadn’t been invented otherwise she’d have been a fraudster’s dream victim.
My dad hated talking on the phone and would weirdly, never ask a question because it would’ve cost him more money so his conversations always sounded like this: “Hello. Yes, it is, ahem. Yes, yes, okay. Yeah, ahem. No. Okay, right. Yeah, okay, then. Bye, Auntie Jean. It was nice talking to you!”
On reflection, he was probably Britain’s first “cold” caller.