Last 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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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…
May it rest in peace.
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…
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.
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)
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.
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.
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?
There being a smoking section on airplanes.
And there was I thinking air travel couldn’t GET any more unpleasant!
There NOT being a smoking section anywhere else, because EVERYWHERE was the smoking section.
And everyone smoked. Everywhere.
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!
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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?