Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Freephone fun

On the subject of telephones, and also partly inspired by this post by Will, I have had a wee blast-from-the-past moment that I'm going to share.

When I was a boy, the summer holidays were the cause of lots of fun. Discovering pornography was just one of the ways in which young boys amused themselves at this time of the year. Another was via the gift of the telephone...

It all seems so wrong now, as an adult, but in those halcyon pre-1471 (*69) or caller-ID days, we would make anonymous phone calls and hang up, for example. What fun!

One time I even managed to call the White House. Yes, that White House. I don't remember where we found the number, but we got through to some sort of switchboard there.

But the best thing was learning that you could make free phone calls from any call box. How was this feat achieved? Well, instead of using the dial to make a call, you would pick up the receiver and use the little buttons in the cradle. So, if you wanted to call 67538, for example, you'd bash the button six times in quick succession, then briefly pause, seven times quickly, brief pause, and so on, until all five numbers had been dialled.

You had to count correctly, of course, or you would get the wrong number. But that aside, it worked like a treat. Freephone fun. And it worked at home too, so we could make our prank calls without our parents ever being charged for them. See how considerate we were...

I've just tried it on my home phone now. It still works! Whether or not it registers as a paid call these days, though, I just don't know.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Blogger Karen said...

Oh my goodness, did this post bring back memories! When I was a teen, a friend of mine and I discovered the number to the White House on a Trivial Pursuit (original) game card. Thinking it couldn't possibly be right, we called (collect, naturally). We were shocked to hear a lady answer "White House". The operator was silent and it took a few seconds before she was able to try and put the call through. It was declined unfortunately. That didn't stop us from spending the weekend making prank calls from Maggie Thatcher and a number of other people which we thought would be hilarious. By Sunday evening, the operator only got a recording saying the number had been changed... score one for me :)

03 April, 2007 12:31  
Blogger Milla said...

I love these blasts from the past :-D
When we were teenagers, whenever some random person telephoned our house wanting to speak to someone, we would say 'Can you please wait a moment? He/she is on the toilet' and then shout the name of the person the caller wanted, "Hey [name] you are wanted on the phone!!!!! Hurry up in the shitter!!!!!"

03 April, 2007 13:17  
Blogger Pendullum said...

How cool is that???
We used to know the code to make our phone ring in our house...
Proved very useful for getting everyone to the table...as I would not have to run up three flights of stairs all I had to do was call... They changed the code...And I was left to running the stairs again..

03 April, 2007 13:22  
Blogger Pickled Olives said...

My brother and I would call people and pretend we were a radio station giving out freebies and make them answer a series of questions. Or we'd call and say things like - Do you know where your husband is?

03 April, 2007 14:03  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Karen: I wonder now whether that's where we got the White House number. It's perfectly possible. Certainly it was printed somewhere; that much remember. Ah, the fun!

Milla: That's sheer class. Wonderful. I bet that went down well with everyone... Oh, yeah, except the person who you said was taking a dump!

03 April, 2007 14:21  
Blogger Odat said...

LOL Oh we did the same thing...the prank calls!! Ah memories!

03 April, 2007 14:22  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Pendullum: It's way cool! Oh yeah, we used to know that number for callbacks too. I'd forgotten. How rad was that? I wish I knew it now, if it even exists.

Olives: Hah! That's a cool trick to play, the radio station one. And the husband thing is just plain mean.

Odat: It brings it all back, doesn't it?!

03 April, 2007 14:25  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

oh fun times with the telephone.

too bad some people never grow out of it. my guy friends were still prank calling us through college.

03 April, 2007 15:47  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

yep. Did that. One place I rented a room the landlord had a phone lock on. No probs just tap the numbers. I don't think you get charged even now. Showed Jax how to do it and she has now and then and nowt's on our phone bill.

03 April, 2007 18:18  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Yep, this brought back a lot of memories for me too. I completely forgot about how you make a long distance call on a payphone...came in handy! I guess it's a little like the 90's when all the nerd kids were hackers!

03 April, 2007 18:33  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martha: Fun times indeed! Yeah, I think most people should grow out of it by about 14, surely?

4D: It's a very economical way to make a phone call. How can it be wrong?!

Candy: Yeah, we were the 1980s' phone hackers. Woo hoo!

03 April, 2007 18:37  
Blogger Lee said...

I'm such a dweeb...I don't think I ever made any prank phone calls.

04 April, 2007 13:04  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Lee: It's never too late to start, though, right?

04 April, 2007 15:38  
Blogger mist1 said...

*69 and Caller ID have ruined the joys of prank calls for children everywhere.

04 April, 2007 21:26  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Mist: You know it, sister!

05 April, 2007 15:34  
Blogger apositivepessimist said...

I have to remind myself that people actually have caller id etc, so that puts paid to my prank calls. bastids.

My dad used to answer our phone with "City Morgue" I thought that was really cool of him at the time.

07 April, 2007 17:19  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

APP: Bastids indeed! Answering the phone in a funny manner is always good for a laugh!

08 April, 2007 10:06  
Blogger cappy said...

i have a tendancy at work to use variants of the morgue...

"north pole, duty penguin"
"chippefields circus, head clown"
"playboy mansion, chief bunny"
"death star, senetor palpatine"

well you get the drift! as for the white house number, douglas adams printed that and the vatican and nasa's in the original h2gt2g four book bound edition, in a prelogue entitled how to leave the planet.
(i need to get out more)

13 April, 2007 12:56  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Who links to me?