Son: “Mummy, were there T-Rexes when you were little?”
Son: “Mummy, when you were little did they have those flip top phones?”
Mummy: “No. When I was little our phone was connected to the wall with a wire and we didn’t have buttons we had a sort of a wheel you had to turn. In those days we had to call the operator and she would connect our line with someone’s elses.”
Pause while son ruminated on this ancient technology.
Son: “Mummy. When you were little was there TV?”
Mummy: “Yes, but not when Daddy was born.”
This isn’t as bad it sounds. We only got television in South Africa on 5 January 1976. The government feared television would rot our brains and corrupt our morals.
Son: “Mummy, were you alive before TV had colours?”
When I was small we had a tiny black and white TV set with a bunny ears aerial. TV only came on during set hours and English and Afrikaans were on alternate days.
My grandparents had one of the first colour TV sets. It was an immense behemoth of a Sony with a tiny screen. It came with a cloth cover and my Grandfather would gravely unplug it every evening after the news.
I used it myself until a few years ago when the tube blew and no-one I took it to could repair it. I feel its loss keenly.
Son: “Mummy, are you so old that you were born before the Internet?”
Son: “That’s really old.”
The first computer we had at home set me apart from my classmates.
My father was a journalist and so we were among the first to be outfitted with an enormous beige PC.
My father regarded it with deep distrust.
I was regarded as very privileged because we had computer classes at school. We had to use a little turtle to draw palm trees.
Logos? Something like that. Positively pre-Google.
Son: “Mummy, what’s that square thing she’s putting in the computer?”
We were watching Sandra Bullock in The Net.
Mummy: “That’s a floppy disk. You know the icon you press to save files on the laptop.”
Son: “Could you put a movie on there?”
Mummy: “You couldn’t save a photograph on there.”
These days if I get given a USB with less than 3GB I chuck it in the bin. How is that for complacency?
Son: “Mummy, how did you email people before the Internet?”
Mummy, “We wrote on special writing paper and put it in an envelope and posted in a big red post box.”
We got Internet access at home when my boyfriend at the time was off across the seas and being a young love-riddled teenager I was certain I would never cope with the separation unless I had email. So email it was. Pegasus Mail.
I used gophers to search and had to put the telephone handset over the modem so it could sing its whiny little tune for a connection.
I also failed an assignment when I used online forums to research the topic. Now days you’d fail if you didn’t research online.
So much has changed in my lifetime, that the world is quite different now from when I was a child and I’m only in my thirties.
My mother had no electricity and went to bed by candlelight.
My father didn’t have a refrigerator, but an icebox built under the house.
I remember my Grandmother always being entranced by refrigerators and being able to have ice cream at home whenever you wanted it.
I wonder what my grandchildren will say one day.
“Granny, were born before we lived on Mars?”
“Granny, were you alive before the rhinos died?”