In a recent email exchange with an old friend and fellow writer, Ros Adam, I reminisced about the days when, if I wanted to speak to my parents, I had to book an international call a week in advance, from the international operator of the Israel telephone company.
Then I had to make sure that I was at home to receive the call from the operator to connect me to my parents far away from sunny Jerusalem, in not-too-sunny Leicester.
In those day, 40 years ago, and even when we returned here 27 years ago, telephones, whilst not a luxury, were certainly not a ‘given’ in any home.
We had to wait a year until we received our telephones in our new apartment in Ramot., in 1983. After it had been installed, all of a sudden our 18 month old twins suddenly crawled over to their toy box, took out their Fisher-Price telephone and started playing with it, turning the dial, picking it up and talking into it . We suddenly realized that until then, they hadn’t had any idea what to do with it.
We are now ‘blessed’ with a tel/fax , a cordless phone ( and you may remember just what I think of our cordless phone) and three cell phones – with bills to match.
Are we better off? I doubt it but I must admit that I’ve come to rely on them all
I can remember when one morning quite a few years ago,I got on the bus and pulled out my purse to pay. I looked in horror at the empty pocket where my cell phone fits . I always had it with me just in case one of my teenagers or the younger children’s babysitter needs to contact me.
I sat down and stared at the empty space, like an amputee looking at his missing limb.
None of the younger children called to say that they don’t like this sitter and why couldn’t they have the one I got last week who let them all jump on her and tear her hair out while she lay on the floor pretending to be dead.
No one called to say “ she started it first and it’s not fair and Mummy you must tell her that it’s my turn and she hit me and you’ve got to tell her off and when are you coming home?.”
No one called to ask me what was for lunch.
No one called to ask me where I had put their purple skirt and blouse that they had dropped on the floor last week and hadn’t seen since.
No one called to ask me to tell their younger sister that it was her turn to wash the dishes.
No one called to tell me to ignore the phone call I was about to get from her older sister, telling me that she had behaved very badly because it wasn’t true and really it was all the older one’s fault.
No one called to ask me why there was nothing to eat in the fridge.
No one called to ask permission for something I usually say ‘no’ to. hoping that I’m not really paying attention and so I’m more likely to say “yes” to all sorts of things I would never dream of agreeing to face-to-face.
None of my teenage daughters called to ask me if one of her friends had left a message by mistake on my cell-phone for them because no one had called her for at least an hour.
I wandered calmly around the stores, spent much longer than usual in the bookshop, indulged in an uninterrupted cup of coffee with a friend, and as I passed a woman with 2 children , suddenly a horrible feeling of fear overcame me. What if heaven forbid something terrible had happened and no one could contact me.
I rushed off to find a pay-phone. “ Hi Kids. Just touching base. Is everything OK?”
Oh the wonders of modern technology.