Lucky Col
Dance as though nobody's watching, love like it's never going to hurt

Friday, May 12, 2006

When I was a lad

What did we do before mobile phones ?

My dad used to make the phone ring three times to say he would be home soon, partly to reassure me mam, but mainly to make sure the kettle was on.

You couldn't take photos of your mates in the pub. Gone are the days of meeting someone in a club, arranging to meet them the night after (by the Lions, naturally), but being overcome with panic at the thought that actually, you've forgotten exactly what they looked like and may insult them by walking straight past them in the Market Square melee.

People didn't know your exact location ALL of the time. "Hello ……… I'm on the bus …….. About ten minutes ……. Bye". Had they had phones in the sixties, Goldfinger would have called up James Bond "Hello ….. Just outside your secret warehouse …… Black suit ….. Bye".

Off the top of my head, I can think of three occasions when a mobile phone would have been the right tool for the job in the not so distant past:

I was due to travel to Scotland on the Saturday in order to get married the week after, but on the Friday afternoon, I had a hospital appointment. My work colleagues at the time took me for a celebratory drink Friday lunch-time, which unfortunately led me to being a touch late for my hospital visit. The hospital very kindly called my wife-to-be to ask where I was. My wife-to-be, predictably but incorrectly, assumed I'd got cold feet and ran off somewhere. What a fantastic reception awaited me when I got home.

EURO 96, England v Scotland at Wembley, and I'd got tickets. My brother-in-law, my mate Kev & I would travel down to London at 7am Saturday morning, travel on to Staines where we were staying the night, before going on to the game. My brother-in-law, Kev & me clearly needed to be as fresh as daisies on the Saturday morning, and planned on a quiet night on the Friday to accomplish this. We all agreed at 3am Saturday morning that this plan had failed, as we tried in vain to flag down a taxi in the centre of Nottingham after a night clubbing. 6am, my brother-in-law & I were awake, breakfasted & caffeined up and were being driven to the station. It wasn't a surprise that Kev didn't show. What was a surprise was the station announcement at St Pancras as the train pulled in asking me personally to go to the information desk. There, the station announcer read a message from Kev asking me to, and I quote "meet him outside Wembley before the game". The announcer could barely stiffle his guffaws at these northern bumpkins thinking Wembley was a village square, but it didn't bother me for two reasons: I'd lived in London for a year so knew what a ridiculous request this was and secondly, as I mentioned, I'd got the tickets. The now two of us travelled to Staines, left our bags and went for the train back to London. We decided on a quick pint in the Garibaldi, Staines, before continuing (that is important, honest). We took the tube to Wembley, full of banter between Scots & English until some bright lad in our carriage accidently put his hand through one of the fluorescent tubes, leading to a more subdued, police watched journey. The plan to flog the spare ticket outside the ground changed when we got off the tube, walked down the steps into the old Wembley station underpass, to see Kev sat at the bottom of the stairs with his head in his hands. The jammy b*****d.

EURO 96, England v Scotland at Wembley, and I'd got tickets. A good afternoon was had by all, apart from my Scottish brother-in-law who had had a relatively s**t afternoon. It wasn't going to get any better for him. As we walked down Wembley Way having the usually back & forth, he was there one minute, and gone the next. Now he's not a short lad, a fireman by trade and my mate & I are both 6' 5", so we should have been able to spot each other, but it was like an episode of the twighlight zone or that film where Jodie Foster loses her kid on the plane, bizarre. All we could do was carry on down Wembley Way in the hope that we'd spot him. But we never did. We travelled back to Staines without him and hoped he'd do the same. At the very worse, he had his return train ticket to Nottingham, so he could use that. As we sat in the Garibaldi, one of the local lads offered us the use of his mobile, we declined, this was 1996, who ELSE had got one ? 7pm came & went, as did 8pm, I didn't really want to phone home and say I'd lost my brother-in-law, who'd NEVER even been to London before. Gulp. I plucked up enough dutch courage to make the call, but just as I did, in he walked, just before 9pm. He didn't know how to get there, but had asked his way around, gone in & out of London twice but, like a true Scot, homed his way back to the pub we were in earlier that day. William Wallace would have been proud.


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