Telephone

Who’s calling please?

I spotted this phone in the window of a curio shop in Morningside. It drew my interest because, not only is it gorgeous, but it has an old-school Dundee number on it.
My mum’s family are all from Dundee; I was born there and my grandparents lived there till the late ‘90s. Somewhere from the depths, a number popped into my head: 65798 – my grandparent’s old phone number. I found it amazing that I’d remembered it all these years later, a strange but wonderful trick of the human brain.
When I was in the Brownies, we were taught how to use a public telephone. We had to take 10p with us and then we went out in small groups to the nearby red telephone box. My folks didn’t have a phone at the time, so I phoned my grandparents in Dundee. 65798 – I had the number written on a scrap of paper.
Looking at the phone, I started to think about so many different things. Who had it belonged to? Maybe it was someone my Granny knew – perhaps the owner had held the receiver and listened to my Granny’s voice on the other end of the line?
What sort of conversations had the phone overheard – declarations of love, secrets, gossip, arguments? Was the receiver slammed down in anger? Maybe the owner received bad news on it? Cried tears which slid down the white Bakelite. Or maybe it was good news – a pregnancy confirmation, a daughter phoning to say she’d got engaged? Perhaps the phone was just used for mundane things – booking a hair appointment, phoning a plumber, a business phone used to arrange meetings?
How had the phone ended up in Edinburgh? And what had happened to its original owner? It made me feel slightly melancholic as I wondered all these things. The person who once used a finger to spin the dial, who breathed into the mouthpiece, who laughed and cried while gripping the receiver, is probably no longer with us. While this white Bakelite phone still remains, so far from home and no longer in use, looking out at me from behind a pane of glass.

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