Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Gas Lamps, Harry Randals, Sat Navs and iPads by Jane Risdon

Reblogged from Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord, where Sally is sharing pots from the archives of other writers…:

I am delighted to share posts from Jane Risdon’s archives and this week I am sharing the entire post.. Jane shares some of the hoops that needed to be jumped through to get an 83 year old relative up and running on the Internet. Especially when the lady in question was born in the era of gas lamps and dial up telephones.

Gas Lamps, Harry Randals, Sat Navs and iPads by Jane Risdon


Those of us who have grown up in the middle and latter part of the twentieth century, take a lot for granted. We know how to use a telephone and may well have first used one in a red phone box with the old-fashioned, ‘push button A or B’ method of making a call usually via the ‘operator.’ Many didn’t have phones in their homes back then and so a call box was the only option. We then got to grips with phones in our homes and now, of course, we nearly all carry a mobile or cell phone. Just think what they are capable of.

Press Buttons A or B

Our family got a Television when I was quite young so I can recall ‘Watch With Mother’, ‘The Wooden Tops’ and ‘Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men’ – all in Black and White – back when Children only had an hour of Television programming daily. Now television is going twenty-four hours a day with an over-abundant choice of channels to watch.

I was lucky to grow up taking electricity for granted and never questioned its availability. It was there to light my bedroom when I did my homework, powered my hair-dryer and record player. We listened to ‘the wireless’ back when wireless didn’t mean WiFi.

Imagine then, my conversation recently with an elderly relation (aged 83 at the time ), who has been given an iPad as a gift, to keep her occupied and provide some company and interest as she sits alone day after day gazing out at the world passing by her front window. She has mastered the TV remote and digital TV, can send texts and has used a microwave for decades, but the iPad filled her with terror.

‘You seem to forget, I was born into a home with ‘Harry Randals’ and Gas lamps,’ she sighed, ‘I’ll never get my head around all this.’ I should explain that ‘Harry Randal’ is a well-known English way of saying ‘Candles,’ for those of you reading this outside England.

Continue reading at Smorgasbord

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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7 Responses to Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Gas Lamps, Harry Randals, Sat Navs and iPads by Jane Risdon

  1. I remember living in Israel — and it was already 1979 — and waiting a year to get a telephone. I learned to live without one. I remember when every room had ONE outlet. And we were lucky to have that. I remember living in a house in Israel where the bathroom was outside, on the balcony, obviously build later than the rest of the house …. but the water was solar heated. Technology doesn’t always show up in a single heap 🙂


    • Sue Vincent says:

      It doesn’t 🙂 My last home in France was a doll’s house sized place… the toilet was still accessed through the garden and the shower through a flight of steps outside..again, obvious afterthoughts. Fine in summer, but the bad winters could be chilly 🙂


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