I was in an old shop the other day — the sort that is full to the brim with all sorts of things. The sign on the front window drew me in. It advertised a Brexit fire sale.
There was a bookcase filled with old dog-eared paperbacks, the sort that you used to pick up at airport shops on your way somewhere, or packed in your suitcase if you were heading off to the beach for a week. You could almost smell the old sun cream from past holidays reeking from their pages.
There were signs with little ditties that young people put up in new rooms to make them look old. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose in one way? Why not leave them old without going to the bother of doing them up in the first instance?
There were a couple of antique irons there. Not the sort of antique irons that you had to put in front of a roaring coal fire to heat up, but the sort with frayed electrical cords and holes that hissed steam when you wanted to get the creases out of a good shirt before you went on a hot date with a girl who had the ability to crease your pants too.
I was tempted to purchase a folding one but couldn’t find a power cord that fitted it — and no one else would have it either
Now no one irons anyway and you need an IT degree just to be able to figure out the beeps and buttons.
Antique mobile phones
There was a display case full of old mobile phones too. Do you remember when it seemed as if every single mobile phone on the planet had its own particular power cable. Even though you could only make phone calls or figure out how to text, you always seemed to be running low on battery and no one had a power cord that matched yours.
Do you think the teen thumbs of today could master all 26 letters of the alphabet from a 10-number key pad? And back then, a hashtag was something you pressed when you were recharging your credit.
The case contained old phones that folded, little ones that are so small they’re trendy again, and big ones that looked like something the Soviet military would use to call in an air strike. I was tempted to purchase a folding one but couldn’t find a power cord that fitted it — and no one else would have it either.
There was a fax machine for sale but I have no idea where you could source paper for those now anyway. And a cassette tape recorder. The only time I’ve ever seen a cassette tape recorder recently is on British police television dramas where a suspect is being interviewed and anything he says can or will be used in evidence against them.
The vinyl charm
There was a display case full of old CDs and cardboard boxes full of LPs. Where have the days gone since most weekend’s pocket money was spent in record shops, flicking through rows and rows of vinyl albums. And yes, vinyl is back in vogue now, adding veracity to the myth that if you wait long enough, things will come back around in fashion again.
I can’t see that happening to VHS tapes. After the record shops disappeared, along came video stores. Weekend hours were spent picking out of the two or three blockbuster movies to watch, and there was a fine if you sent them back without being rewound.
The store had a couple of map books and atlases. No one uses a map anymore. And the same can be said for old Guinness Books of World Records. It used to be a matter of pride that you knew who was the fastest runner over 1,500 metres. Now, you just Google the answer — if your phone has battery.