A fond farewell to the landline – Telegraph Blogs

So, farewell then…

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has just released a report, saying the landline is no longer an essential item in the modern household.

They’re right, of course. Apart from sometimes being cheaper than a mobile, the landline is a sad, basic thing by comparison. You can’t use the internet on it; it doesn’t turn into an alarm clock; and, most of all, you can’t stick it in your pocket and leave the house with it.

But, still, like with any long-term household resident, it’s sad to see it go. And those departures from the British home have been accelerating in recent years: address books, diaries, CDs, records, tapes… The list goes on and on, and will only increase as the shrinking microchip gobbles up every household appliance except for the crockery and the carpets.

1950s visions of the future always look charmingly quaint these days – with their Dan Dare versions of the cars, sofas and clothes they wore then. What no one predicted is that the future would look so empty. The modern paradox – an unprecedented one, too – is that the richer the human race gets, the fewer things it acquires.

The love of emptiness applies to decoration, too. We don’t just want fewer things; we want them to be less ornamented. Think of the iPod and the iPad – wonderful devices, but astonishingly plain ones. 

Minimalist decor is the new normal. Never has the division between successive generations been so extreme. Before, generations would differ themselves from their parents by a change in the style of the stuff they own. Now they differentiate through the more extreme device of having much less stuff.

You can see the process at work by walking through the smarter parts of London at night. In the terraces of Islington and Camden – near where I live – you can tell how old the occupants are by glancing through the windows.

Anyone under 50 lives in a big white box, with very few pictures; what pictures there are have been made in the last 10 years. Anyone over 50 likes lots of colour and lots of stuff: rugs; older pictures; older, mismatched furniture; signs of wear and tear; walls of different colours, often of a darker hue.

They’ll have clung on to the records, the address books and the diaries, too. And the landline. Yes, a lot of all that stuff will be technologically outdated. But it will still be cheerfully used by the occupants. I know which sort of house I’d prefer to live in.


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Source: telegraph.co.uk

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