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I remember a time as a child when cameras were not accessible to everybody, when there were no mobile phones and if there was a family to have a fixed phone in their house they should have considered themselves very lucky.

The only way to communicate with loved ones (or anybody else for that matter) was via a telegram or calling at the local Post Office (with a prebooked appointment). Any call you made had to be routed through a human operator at the central phone exchange.

Obviously as time went by technology moved in tandem with it and, after being put on a long waiting list, I had my first land-line phone installed in the ‘90s. Still, whenever away from home or the workplace, you had to use public phone boxes, which did not always work, you always had to save coins and make sure you carried the right amount with you.

From time to time, especially when my battery is flat, I remember those tiny booths in which you had to squeeze yourself and hope that they would not “eat” the last coin you had found in one of your pockets. Just as often you’d have to hold your breath as many times you’d as if by a brick wall by the strong, acrid, smell of urine as the booths had been used as urinals by drunks on their jolly way home.
Whenever I feel like I’m going into some sort of post-modernist anti-consumerist mood, or feel that the rise of the mobile phone has lead to more individualism, I remember walking into those smelly phone booths and fumbling around my pockets for that coin that wasn’t there.

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