Tonight I started watching The Chilling Life of Sabrina on Netflix, which is so dark and creepy that I started to miss the simplicity of my nineties upbringing. To me, Sabrina is the cheesy puns and costumes at the start of the episodes and Spellbound the PC Game. Also, anyone remember the Sabrina magazine? The new Sabrina feels more like this generations Twilight. I am not sure I am a fan.
So I started to think of all the other things we do or watch now that you would never do nowadays.
Record the Charts
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On a Sunday afternoon, I remember sitting with a cassette player and listening to the charts. It took skill and weeks of practice to stop the recording to not get the presenter in on your recording. This meant you could basically have the new Now That’s What I Call Music- before it was released and for free! Whilst we’re talking about recording on cassettes, I remember also recording my own Radio Shows on my Karaoke Machine and making my mum listen back to them. It basically was me presenting, sometimes I’d convince my brother to ‘phone in’ for my competitions, if not I’d be me talking to me in a really bad accent. What an amazing past-time I had. Nowadays, I am often asked by the young people I work with to play the charts on YouTube… and they are awful!
Go home from school and talk to people you don’t talk to at school on MSN. Whilst on webcam.
Everyone used to have MSN messenger. Remember you’d spend ages putting all the emojis in your name, writing out all your pals and thinking of a really edgy quote as your tagline. You also could turn on the ‘Now Listening to’ but that was risky in case a really embarrassing song came on and then the now listening froze! When you were on MSN you would have loads of people from school, that you have literally spent all day with, but never spoke to once. Your conversations would go a little something like this.
_ox_Steph_<3_:) : Hey WUU2?
_._| (Insert random name)_.o_| : nm u?
_ox_Steph_<3_:) : same
_._| (Insert random name)_.o_| : lol
Sometimes you’d even put on the webcam. Now I know that webcams sound dodgy and your thinking what did you do. Literally, you would sit and watch the other person typing, occasionally smiling, you get nosey into what their living room looked like and occasionally you’d get a wee glimpse of their mum in the background peering over their shoulder. This happened every night. I suppose nowadays kids are all about the Snapchat streaks. So not much really has changed, except we don’t have to wait until we get home.
Have to go to the shops to buy a top-up card.
Back in the day before contract phones. Before even camera phones were a thing. You used to have to go to the shop and buy a ‘top up’ for your phone. Remember having to call up and type in the codes and scratch off the pin. I remember I had the O2 sim card that most people I knew had where you topped up £10 and got 300 free texts! After them free texts were gone you had to eat into your £10. At 10p a text you really had to be careful about who you texted, not wanting to waste a text. My phone recently had to be sent to get repaired so I bought a £5 one from Argos, it was a fiver and it had a camera on it, impressive!
You never made a phone call unless it was completely necessary. For example, my brother broke his arm once and rather than calling my mum to tell her he walked a mile back to the house to let her know. When your phone got a little fancier and you could have internet access on it that was even more risky, accidentally pressing the internet button could be a pricey mistake. That’s another thing, gone are the days when you had to memorize different peoples landline numbers. I don’t even know my own landline number. Landline Phones are a thing of the past.
When your bored call 192 to ask the time or what’s on at the cinema
So you have a phone, you don’t want to waste your money, but you still want to show off with your pals that you have the latest trendy Nokia phone. So you spent your days calling 192 because it was free. I’m still not entirely sure what other services 192 provided apart from cinema times and the time, I’m sure the people that answer the phone call must have got sick of kids calling them constantly and giggling their way through the phone call. I know 192 got replaced with 118118 but you had to pay for that. Is 118 118 still around? Surely its a thing of the past? What about the speaking clock does that still exist? What a weird thing calling a number to hear the time seems now. Especially when most homes have an Alexa or other Smart Home Gadget!
Have to look up the TV guide to get the code to record something.
I remember sitting at my grannies on a Saturday afternoon. One of my jobs was to program her telly to record her programs on VHS. There was no sky plus or digital tv guides. What you had to do was get a TV Guide normally in a Saturday newspaper (Even buying a newspaper is a bit of a novelty!) Alongside the TV show and time was a wee code, you had to type this code into your VCR (Mind-only fancy VCRs had this facility) and your telly would record it. Non- fancy VCRs you had to type in the time you wanted it to start and stop recording and make sure you left your telly on that channel. Don’t get me started on having to wait for a video to rewind! Nowadays it’s the opposite we have Netflix, Amazon, iPlayer and yet I will just rewatch Friends on a loop!
Get annoyed if your mum got a phone call, whilst you were downloading from Limewire.
Most people of a certain age remember that day your mum or dad or guardian sat you down and made the announcement that you were going to be getting Broadband. What! Does this mean we can make phone calls and be on the internet… at the same time? This is the thing dreams are made of! Before this day it was pretty typical to have one desktop computer in the house. This was shared by the whole family and you would have to fight for a spot on it to use the aforementioned MSN Messenger. Also, you’ve upgraded from recording the charts on a cassette, to ‘downloading them’. This was highly illegal, but as children having an excellent CD in your walkman is much more important than paying artists royalties. Before broadband, you would be halfway through downloading new DJ Rankin mixes when 6pm hit. Phone calls were free after 6pm and so when 6pm struck all across the country the internet would be down as mums and aunties would be calling each other to catch up on the daily gossip before Eastenders. It took about a week to finally download all the songs, make sure they worked and weren’t dodgy. The struggles we went through!
Having to type in your ringtone.
Before Smart Phones or camera phones, or even colour phones. One of the major selling points of new mobile phones were polyphonic ringtones. This meant that your ringtones were multi-tonal and the best part was you could customize your ringtones. You would scour the internet to find a code for the latest chart hit. The code would look something like this
37278**43#783902 etc. You would type in the code and you would have a wonderful new ringtone. Now, remember no-one hardly ever phoned each other as it cost too much money, so you would rarely hear your ringtone. A bit like nowadays, I could not tell you what my ringtone was.
Not having to charge your phone for days.
Having a smartphone is basically like having a landline, it needs to charge several times a day. I have to carry around a plug and cable with me, even on nights out. It can do everything short of making me a cup of tea, yet it can’t stay on for 12 hours. Back in the good-ole’-days, when you had a Nokia, you could go for days without charging it. Probably because it did nothing and therefore needed a battery. The other great thing was everyone had the same phone so if you did run out of battery you’d just swap batteries with your pal. In exchange, you often got a bit of chewing gum or something just as worth it!
Use Encarta to complete your homework.
Before the Internet and Google were really a major thing, you used to get a few free cd’s with your new computer. I remember we got “Rugrats Print Studio”, a program you could make posters, door signs, certificates with Rugrat characters- not that we ever printed them out- printing was a premium service reserved only for homework.
The other CD was Encarta, which was a CD-ROM encyclopedia. Imagine a limited Wikipedia, that was more reliable. Any time you had a homework piece, or if you were a geek like me and would just read encyclopedia’s for fun, Encarta was the place to be. Whilst we are talking about retro Microsoft word, remember the wee patronizing paperclip man that used to pop up every time you’d make a mistake.
Go to Blockbuster.
Finally, a novelty that kids these days will never know is going to the video shop. Imagine if Netflix was a shop. Instead of flicking through the various films, you used to have to drive to Blockbusters, walk around the shop, argue over a VHS or latterly a DVD to watch, go to the counter get the person to find the disc or video, put it in a case for you and you paid. Then 2 days later you had to return the DVD. The DVD rental probably cost about the same as Netflix does for a month now. But it was such an event to go to the video shop, a bit of a treat too. Now I feel like its so easy to watch a movie I rarely do it. Even the concept of buying a DVD or BluRay nowadays is a bit of a rarity, I couldn’t tell you the last DVD I bought.
So there we go 10 things from my childhood that no longer happen and would sound totally mad to a child these days. It’s amazing to see how things have evolved over the years and it’s not until you reflect on the past you think of all the experiences kids these days have missed. I wonder what a post like this would look like in 10 years time! How many of these do you remember?