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Forever Amber: UK influncer

31 Things About My Childhood That My Baby Will Never Experience

L

ast week, Terry and I were talking about the differences between our own childhoods and Max’s, and it got me thinking about some of the things children of Max’s generation will never experience. I’m talking here about things like…

01.
Not being able to use the phone when you’re on the Internet.

Because, dial-up. Oh, the sense of injustice when someone else in the house dared to use the phone right in the middle of your ICQ session. So. Unfair.

02.
The horror of realising you used the Internet first thing in the morning, then went out all day and left it connected, and OMG, your dad is going to kill you when the phone bill comes in.

And he did kill me: I’m dead now, seriously.

03.
Listening to the top 40 on the radio on a Sunday afternoon to find out what would be number one, because that was kind of a big deal then.

Until I got a stereo of my own, I used to listen in my parents’ room every Sunday, crouched in front of the radio, listening intently to music I didn’t even like, just so I could find out who would be number one. It was ace.

04.
Illicitly recording your favourite songs from said Top 40, and trying to hit the ‘pause’ button at the exact right moment, before the DJ cut in and ruined it.

To this day, there are some songs I can’t listen to without my brain adding some random DJ babble to the fade out, because I’d failed in my mission to cut it out, then listened to it approximately 5,000 times…

05.
Making a mix tape and agonising over the track listing.

I guess Kids Today might do this with playlists, but will they also use their very best handwriting to write the names of the songs on the tape box? Because I doubt it.

06.
That sinking feeling as you realise the VCR or cassette recorder has chewed up your favourite movie/album/mix tape.

When I think of all of the things I could have achieved with the hours I spent spooling the tape back onto the cassette, and praying it would still function afterwards…

31 things people who grew up in the 90s will understand07.
Blockbuster.

May it rest in peace.

08.
Going to Blockbuster to rent Dirty Dancing, and being absolutely fuming when you find that all 3 copies are already out.

And yet Three Men and a Baby was ALWAYS still available…

09.
Finally getting that coveted tape, watching it, then having to sit and rewind it before you took it back.

Or, worse, hiring a movie and realising that the person who’d had it before you had failed in their rewinding duties, and was just a terrible excuse for a human being, basically.

10.
Having to watch TV shows when they were actually on TV, because no catch up.

Every morning, my grandad used to sit and circle the shows he intended to watch in the newspaper’s TV listings page. Hey, remember when newspapers used to carry TV listings? LOLOLOL. (Come to think of it, remember newspapers? EVENMORELOL)

11.
Asking your dad to record the last ever episode of Twin Peaks for you, but he records the wrong channel, and you get three hours of snooker, instead.

We only recently started speaking again after that particular incident.

12.
Having to take a bus and a train into Edinburgh when that album you wanted came out, because there was no internet, your mum and dad were at work, and the nearest Woolworths only carried the Top 10, and had half-day closing on a Wednesday anyway.

Also, I didn’t even know what the band sounded like, I just wanted their album because NME said I should like it.

13.
Having to go somewhere in one car, and there’s too many of you, but it’s OK, because it’s a hatchback, and someone can just go in the boot.

Because what could possibly go wrong?

14.
There being a smoking section on airplanes.

And there was I thinking air travel couldn’t GET any more unpleasant!

15.
There NOT being a smoking section anywhere else, because EVERYWHERE was the smoking section.

And everyone smoked. Everywhere.

16.
Having to phone someone whose number you didn’t know, but it’s OK, because it’ll be in the phone book.

Does the phone book even exist now? Imagine how big it would have to be, if so!

17.
Realising they’ve paid to be ex-directory (POSH!), so now there is literally no way to contact them, other than by letter.

Or, you know, just wait until you see them at school, I guess.

18.
Phoning your BFF on the landline, and praying no one else in her family answers it, because even although you’ve known them forever, you’ll still say something stupid, and they’ll make fun of you for the rest of your life.

I mean, I hate phoning people on cellphones, too, but at least you know who’ll answer, right?

19.
Talking to said friend on the phone for an hour, and the whole time, either your dad or hers is in the background going, “That better not be you still on that phone, lady!”

And you’d literally JUST seen her at school, and would be seeing her the next day, too, but you’d still want to talk on the phone all night, about absolutely nothing, right?

20.
Your mum using Teletext to try to get a good deal on a holiday.

Otherwise you’d have to get a pile of brochures and then either go into a travel agent’s or phone one (on the landline, natch) to book a hotel you knew nothing about (Because, no Trip Advisor) other than that it looked pretty cool in the Thomas Cook brochure.

21.
Your dad’s entire carry-on allowance being taken up with the camcorder, regular camera, and extra tapes/film for both of them.

And you would still run out of tapes/film halfway through the trip.

22.
The sweet suspense of queuing in Boots to pick up your holiday photos…

… and then discovering that half of them are double-exposures, and you had the lens cap on for all the rest.

23.
Your mum and dad getting their friends round to look at their holiday photos (That all came out OK, although you have your eyes closed in all of them) and saying, “They’re just back from Majorca, so we’ll get them to bring their photos, too, and make a night of it!”

And what a night it would be.

24.
When you get home, you can’t wait to see the holiday video…

… but your dad has to convert the camcorder tapes to VHS first, so you have to either watch it on the tiny viewfinder screen, or wait until your parents’ friends come round for the official screening, at which point you realise that someone (Whose name begins with A and rhymes with “Bamber”…) must have accidentally pressed the record button at some point, and now you have an hour-long video of the safety belt in the hire car, which ends with your mum’s voice going, “Quick, Amber, you have to film this!” before it cuts off.

25.
Actually using a telephone box to make a phone call when you were out somewhere.

As opposed to just using it as a photo prop for your Insta grid, obviously.

26.
Only finding out that the band you’re obsessed with is playing near you because you saw an advert in the Melody Maker, and now you have to get up early and be sitting by the phone when lines open, so you can try to buy a ticket.

Or, in my case, standing in a phone box somewhere in Edinburgh, just in case your flatmate picked that exact moment to make an hour-long phonecall to her boyfriend…

27.
Dialling 1471 as soon as you got home, to see who the last person who called you was.

There was no way to find out who the person who called before them was, though, and that, my friends, was a real killer.

28.
Telling your parents that if they’re not going to buy a satellite dish, so you can get MTV, you may as well all be dead.

Because, 4 channels! There were only 4 channels!

29.
You want to record Top of the Pops, but your mum wants to record Knott’s Landing, and the only way you could do both would be if you had two VCRs.

So now you’ll just have to either wait until the Top 40 on Sunday to hear that song you like, or catch the train to Edinburgh again to buy the cassingle.

30.
Cassingles.

Snigger.

31.
There are no seatbelts in the back seat of your parents’ car, so you can sit in the middle, hold onto the front headrests and pretend you’re piloting an X-Wing fighter.

I was apparently brought home from hospital in a carry cot placed on the back seat. I mean, both of my parents would probably be in jail now if they’d done that today, but we had none of those fancy-pants car seats in those days, so, yeah. (I actually remember my parents buying and fitting a single seatbelt in the back seat for me when I was a kid: they didn’t come as standard then, so everyone thought my mum and dad were a couple of over-protective weirdos for getting me one. How the times have changed…)

*

Looking back at these, it’s obvious that most of them seem to relate to the phone in some way, which I guess is all the proof you need that the iPhone changed the world, huh? Tell me, though: which of your childhood memories would the current generation struggle to understand?

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22 Comments
  • Fi
    August 15, 2018

    10p mixes at the sweet shop. Penny sweets for that matter!
    Phone related – making plans and actually having to stick to them. No last minute texting to change or say you’re running late.
    Electric blankets on the beds at my grandparents’ house because they didn’t have central heating and every room in the house bar the one with the open fire was FREEZING! (My niece complains that my parents’ house is too hot now.)
    Milk bottles on the doorstep that the milkman had left. Which were made of glass. And frozen in the winter.
    x

    • Amber
      August 15, 2018

      I remember getting tiny versions of the glass milk bottles handed out in school, too – and getting to be the milk monitor was a huge honour!

  • Anita
    August 15, 2018

    Haha, soooo many memories!!!

    Safety related things- when I was about 5 or 6, my biggest treat was being allowed to go in the car sitting on the floor of the front passenger seat between my mum’s legs while my dad drove. Accident hazard much?! I have no idea why I even wanted to do that so much- it would’ve been more uncomfortable than sitting on the seat surely?! -but I really loved it!
    Also I rode my bike all over my neighbourhood and never once wore a helmet. In fact my parents had bought me one but I didn’t wear it because I was just too.damn.cool for that stuff.

    Teletext. Oh god I have so many memories about Teletext. There used to be a whole section of pages there, gossip pages, joke pages, you name it. And you had to wait for each page to flip over in turn, there was no way of moving the pages yourself. I once got so cross with my dad for trying to change channel just while I was waiting for a page to flip over.

    Having a BT Chargecard to use when you were out in order to make phone calls that would get charged back to your parents’ home phone bill. Funny story, the PIN for that BT Chargecard was impossible to change, and I still use that same PIN for my credit card now as it became so firmly stuck in my head…

    • Amber
      August 15, 2018

      Ah, yes, I went everywhere either on my bike or on roller skates, and it never even occurred to me to wear a helmet – I didn’t even own one 🤦‍♀️

  • last year's girl
    August 15, 2018

    I never booked a holiday on Teletext, but I DID meet my first boyfriend there…

    • Amber
      August 15, 2018

      I’m intrigued! (And my younger self is gutted for not even knowing this was possible!)

  • Melanie
    August 15, 2018

    What a brilliant trip down memory lane! I don’t have children yet but when I do I wonder if they will be able to understand how we ever got through the day without reliable internet, social media, smart devices, etc…

  • Erin
    August 15, 2018

    The injustice of the 80s & 90s! I related to everything on this list except the smoking section on planes! I don’t remember that, thankfully <3

  • EffEmm
    August 15, 2018

    Ha! These are awesome! To these I would add…

    – Playing Bamboozle on Ceefax (Teletext?). Not at my house, though, as the TV was old and cheap and didn’t have colour buttons on the remote.
    – Not only watching TV programmes at their set time, but collectively dissecting them at school the next day. Brookside being a particular fave!
    – NEVER being late to meet your friends because you couldn’t just text someone to let them know.
    – Speaking to your friends on the phone, but living in fear that a parent was listening in on the other landline.
    – When arriving on holiday, immediately finding a phone box to call home and talk about the weather.
    – Sending postcards on holiday. Probably to talk about the weather!

  • Bry Jaimea
    August 15, 2018

    So many of these were my childhood!
    How many hours did I waste trying to rewind a cassette tape with a pencil when the tape came loose? How many hours trying to find my friends phone number who just happened to have a really popular surname in the telephone book?
    Ah, sweet memories!

  • Bry Jaimea
    August 15, 2018

    So many of these were my childhood!
    How many hours did I waste trying to rewind a cassette tape with a pencil when the tape came loose? How many hours trying to find my friends phone number who just happened to have a really popular surname in the telephone book?
    Ah, sweet memories! Thanks for sharing xx

  • Linda Libra Loca
    August 15, 2018

    I still remember family holidays that I would spend my whole pocket money on telephone cards I could use in the phone box down the streets to call my boyfriend. Every night at 7 pm. It was a date!

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

  • Hana Mond
    August 15, 2018

    My memories are not as much phone-related (oh, in spite of one thing: I knew every number of every friend and family member – easy, cause they were four-digit) – but book-related! Will my childs even know household lexica? Surely they will never know the pleasure of looking on the stamps at the last side of library books, studying how many people had borrowed that book before and how long it took them to read it … (is that weird? I always enjoyed that!)

  • Erika
    August 15, 2018

    Ha, ha! A blast from the past. So much of this was my childhood too. 😆

  • lauren
    August 15, 2018

    Oh god, this has me feeling SO. NOSTALGIC. I don’t have any kids yet, but even my younger siblings have never known/will know the pain of having dial up…

  • Kelly Glen
    August 15, 2018

    This was also exactly like my childhood, all great memories from the 80’s.
    I’m sure kids of today won’t know how we ever managed to cope with such deprived childhoods of not having the Internet and mobile phones!! Personally in some ways I think it was a bit better without the internet and mobile phones. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who thinks that things were better back then.

  • Lila Athanaselis
    August 15, 2018

    I never experienced dial up, my first internet was in 2003. Also we never knew about camcorders or sky tv but my best friend had both. And I woud go over to her house to play a version of video game that had different versions of space games.
    I still use 1471, is that the right number? I still have to check the last caller 😬

    Door to door salespeople are disappearing thanks to the internet, Avon/Kleeneze/Betterware.

    Competitive sports days..Now it’s just the taking part that counts

    If Max wanted to travel to Greece 30 years he would have to get a bus or train and then more trains, as you could only get a plane from London.😬

    The local Post Office with a huge choice of genuine jars of sweets, not cheap brands from the internet.

    Playing outdoors from morning till mum called you in to eat or it was bedtime, so much more greenery and freedom then. Though I say this, kids can and still do play out all day but it seems more frowned upon. And with this comes pressure from society and other mums and media to dpend money and time on them taking them out and entertaining them. I did a bit of both but made sure I bought family passes wherever they were sold, but just didn’t have the money to buy things new like phones, expensive trainers or computers until bargains appeared with these like on ebay.
    😁

  • Selina
    August 16, 2018

    Coming back from school and wasting the evening on MSN, dial up internet, Woolworth’s, Woolworth sweets, 10p sweets and crisps…ah the good old days

  • Sarah Rooftops
    August 16, 2018

    This is my youth right here.

    I have a Ladybird book (EDUCATIONAL!) which was Steve’s when he was a kid (so… very early 80s), which shows a mum coming out of the maternity hospital, sitting in the back seat of the car, and a nurse handing her her baby through the open window because how else would you get that child home?! It also shows a baby bottle full of something which looks like Ribena and says that children should have ice cream after lunch every day.

  • Emerald
    August 28, 2018

    How did I miss commenting here? It’s got to be Dial-a-Disc! I think the number was 160 and they’d have a different Top 30 single on every day. I remember my friend Clare and I wanting to hear ‘Boogie Nights’ one hot summer afternoon in 1977. I can’t remember when it actually stopped, but I’d moved onto punk long since.

  • Lusa
    September 1, 2018

    Oh this brings me so many memories! 🙂
    I used to play outside my Aunt’s house with my cousins, just a bunch of kids playing with a ball, or riding the bike. Back then the street was always full with kids and there was no adults watching over us. Maybe an older sibling, but definitely not an adult. Nowadays it’s kind of sad that on that very same street (which has a lot of new houses) there are no kids playing… I guess parents now prefer that kids stay indoors playing videogames. I think that’s a bit sad…

  • Sharon Sinclair-Williams
    September 9, 2018

    I’ve just found you via Catherine at @Notdressedaslamb and I love you already. I’m a fair bit older than you but can still so relate to this hilarious post. Looking forward to reading more now! Sharon xo

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