Top Ten Obsolete You May Miss
It’s a techy world we live in. Small children have smart phones; FaceTime, once a social concept, is now an app; you can order your dinner off the internet and set your Skybox to record. It’s deadly.
We have convenience up the hoohah. And yet, there are things that one can’t help but miss.
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Pointless and relegated to attics and car boot sales, but reminiscent of a simpler time. A time when you had to leg it home from school or you’d miss the first 20 minutes of The Den. A time when convenience food meant something wrapped in a tea towel that your Ma dropped over. A time when an electric shower was a weather event.
Obviously we wouldn’t trade our iLives for the world, but here’s the list of bygone treats that still make us come over all emotional.
9. Floppy Discs
With all of the storage space of a studio flat with a Murphy bed, floppy discs are almost hilarious to think of now, but they were wonderful in their time. Like all old technology/your Ma, they could be interfered with to make them do what you wanted.
They appealed to that Irish urge to tinker with a thing and make it do something it wasn’t meant for, like putting red diesel in the car or forcing a hanger to act as a television aerial. Old floppies could be pressed into service with just a touch of messing. Need to overwrite the contents? Why, stick a bit of tape on the bottom. None of this CD-R wank. Currently only useful as nerdy coasters, you’d need seven or eight of them just to save down a copy of your CV.
8. The Operator
An exotic, unfamiliar voice on the other end of the phoneline, The Operator was the phone sex of the ’80s and early ’90s. You wanted to ask them so much. How do you get to be the operator? Do people ring up for a chat? Where do you live? What do you do on the weekend? Is your job just as cool as it sounds?
Do people ever be grumpy bastards at you for ringing with the early morning wake-up call? Have you ever had a famous person do a cheeky reverse charges call even though they’re rolling in it? The operator… that dark, unknown quantity. Do you know one? Can we meet them? Sorry if this is getting a little weird…
7. VHS Tapes
We haven’t experienced the pleasure of cheeky-fast-forwarding a trailer in the comfort of our own homes in years. Fuck off, DVDs.
6. Car phones
Remember when you could ring someone from the car and feel like the absolute shit? “Hello, I’m just calling you from a non-stationary position!” Realistically what we clearly miss was our crass early ’90s elitism.
5. Ghetto blasters
Before the Walkman, people used to traverse the streets with huge radios balanced on their shoulder, pumping out the tunes. This was a better time, when music was shared insistently and we didn’t all walk around with our headphones in.
Obviously, headphones are handy for ignoring the hell out of annoying people on public transport and things like that, but the old ghetto blaster had its place. Just imagine turning to a chugger with the full weight of those speakers behind you and booming “CAN’T YOU SEE I’M LISTENING TO SOMETHING?” before blasting out your obnoxious tunes at top volume.
With any luck it would result in a moment of Mary Poppins magnitude and the sheer force of the reverberating sound would blow them all away. The demise of ghetto blasters = why chuggers remain unchecked. This never would’ve happened in Blackboard Jungle‘s day.
4. The Punt
A currency to be proud of, The Punt featured such exciting national figures as James Joyce and Some Nun. A £20 note had a way of lasting you. It was easier to punch in that currency symbol on a keyboard.
It was not, most notably, an international embarrassment. One could experience the joy of exchanging it for other, foreign notes simply by arranging a trip to somewhere as near-flung as France or Germany. £100, £50, £20 and all their little mates… a great bunch of lads.
3. Late, Late Postcards
Before texting was cool, or at least before it was mainstream, people used to enter the Late, Late competition via postcard. For some reason, we felt an enormous amount of collective satisfaction in seeing the huge drum of entries that was wheeled onto the studio floor at the end of a Friday night.
There sat the nation, united in their universal dedication to entering the Late, Late competition… probably the only prize in the country worth winning given that all they offered on Where in the World was a new set of delph or the like.
Gaybo and guest would dive a hand into the thousands of entries and pluck out some lucky winner and somewhere among those entries you knew your postcard was sitting there, in with a fighting chance. There was just so much more ceremony to it than we have now. Make people post stuff again. It was great.
Surely of concern to call card collectors everywhere is the demise of the phonebox. Always a decent spot for picking up some used cards, the number of a goer and some choice new phraseology from the graffiti littering the walls, they were rectangular miracles of contact in a country that hadn’t yet embraced the idea of hugging.
Remember telling someone what time to ring you at and then sprinting to the local call box with seconds to spare only to discover that someone was already in there, chatting nineteen to the dozen, with a shedload of 20ps still in their hand? Oh, the pain of it. We have it too easy now. We don’t know the agony of wanting to talk to someone and having to run through the lashings of rain or collect up pounds of pocket-weighing-down coinage to do it.
1. Cute Hoorism
We’re not allowed to be cute hoors anymore. We ruined it by being too cute. And now everyone’s terrified to admit that they got cash in hand for fixing their aunty’s cistern or that they once got away with a speeding fine because their Da rang a guard he knew from the Tug O’War team. But cute hoorism is the Irish way.
We enjoy a good yarn about the varied ways in which people have gotten away with things. Arm chancing is an age-old tradition. And if anything, we need it now more than ever. The national debt could probably be solved by nudging up to a European banker and saying “Ah sure we’ll forget about, will we?” followed by a cheeky wink and the promise of a pint.
A full night on the town and they’d probably give us an extra few bob to refit the place with a couple of new roads and the full roll out for that broadband we keep talking about. Midweek lock-in and they’d be swinging from the chandeliers in Leinster House and telling us we’re so good at running countries that we can have a stab at theirs if we want. The only people who don’t like cute hoors are people who don’t have cute hoorism in them. And those people are just jealous.