I thought it was about time for a little light relief on this blog, after a long spell of photo posts only, and newly inspired by CHUCKLEMUMS, here we go…
By the late nineteen-eighties, the electro-mechanical automatic telephone exchange (just put ‘Strowger Switch’ into Google) had served telephone users for up to around a hundred years – although much less in the more remote parts of the UK, such as parts of rural Scotland, where you still spoke to an operator to connect every call, as late as 1970 (quaint, eh?)
But now, telephony was seeing the greatest revolution since Mr Strowger’s invention: the fully electronic telephone ‘switch’ that was much smaller, worked much more quickly, and needed much less maintenance. It could also manage all sorts of natty little party tricks that we take for granted nowadays, like three-way calling, call waiting advice while you were on another call, and automatic diversion of your calls to another number (with variations.)
But this wasn’t all. With this great new package of technology came another novelty: digitally stored speech that, for instance, told you “Sorry, there is a fault” (that one didn’t happen often) or “You have dialled an incorrect number.” And when dialling, after a pause of around twenty seconds of not entering a digit, we now got told to “please replace the handset, and try again.”
Around this time, I knew a little boy who was then about three, and was fascinated by this. He would sneak up to the phone at home, pick up the receiver, and wait, without doing anything else… until his mother would get wise. “Peter!”* she would say. “What did that lady say? Did she tell you to put it back?”
On one particular occasion, this kind of interrogation was met with a classic, priceless, carefully-intoned reply:
“Please replace the tea-set, and try again!”
Sound advice, in certain situations, I would think, for parents everywhere. Thank you for reading.
*The boy’s name has been changed, to protect, er, me.