It's a really enjoyable challenge to be working with imagery and only very limited space for words, like with this post for a funeral director for whom I'm working. Twentymans Funeral Directors are among those incredible professionals who look after our dead (and the grieving people left behind). It's a tough and thankless job sometimes. Thankyou to elemental environments in Thames for the lovely background image that I used here.
I found my name and number in the latest edition of the telephone directory today and felt an immediate sense of comfort at being listed among the dwindling flock of locals.
Where once us Smiths would take up whole columns, we numbered just eight, though I know our town is not shrinking in population.
My experience of telephones has changed greatly since - according to my kids - the ‘olden days’ when I was their age.
Back then we used to cycle to the post office and make phone calls without any coins, using a swift technique of flicking the receiver catch up and down according to the number you needed to dial. If the number had lots of zeroes in it, you could almost work up a sweat.
Then came the push button phones of the eighties, and wow were they design masterpieces for the times (did anything else come out of the eighties that was worth saving?).
Occasionally I’ll still find a telephone table at the recycle centre or an antique shop and these make me wish I had lived when they were a standard piece of furniture in every posh home. To perch on this neatly-designed personal zone of social interaction, and natter away in the privacy of your hallway to any of a multitude of friends, all-the-while tethered to the wall...
The anchor point prevented any multi-tasking and of course there was no expectation that you would answer a phone if you were outside interacting with actual flesh-and-blood people, or nature.
My dad was probably one of the first purchasers of the ‘mobile phone’ – a beast of a unit that would probably be the right size today to operate as an outer space communication device (oh wait, our phones do that now).
My early years at The New Zealand Herald newspaper involved the excitement of filing a story from the road on a similar contraption – and the thrill was knowing there existed someone as junior as you, doing the typing while you ‘dictated’ from your shorthand notes.
Multi-tasking on this sort of occasion was about trying to read whilst stemming the nausea, as the photographer lurched through gears around hairpin bends on the way back to the office (all photographers drive like wannabe race car drivers, it’s in their DNA).
I think we gained certain freedoms with the invention of the mobile phone but we lost even more.
For example, usually my children only respond to me when I first switch off the WIFI in our home.
The pop!-ping! call to attention of snapchat and messenger is an ever-present diversion from whatever real-life, eye to eye contact or form of creative flow (or household chore) might be happening at a given moment. Actually you know? it sucks.
But then, neither do I miss the much more regular shrill of the telephone ringing in the evening, and the dread of knowing I must flirt with a boy on the end of the line while my brother, sister, mum and dad were also in the room.
So, maybe, like so many memories faded, the old telephone wasn’t such a mythical bird said by ancient writers to breed in a nest floating at sea at the winter solstice, charming the wind and waves into calm...
If you're spending a lot of your day in bare feet, then chances are you have found the kind of balance that Hook & Arrow writer Alison Smith has found in life.