I was wandering peripateticly (as you do,) and came across this staircase, it looked green and inviting so I accepted the invitation and up I went I did.
Past this beautiful flower and this sleepy guy, (sssshhhh, come on, lets tippy toe past him).
Up up to the corner and around the bend, walking, walking, Jalan Jalan as they say in these parts when, all of a sudden, what’s this I see before me ? A Museum of Telecommunications ! Life IS good !! Perhaps even, ( and I’m leaving myself open to this one,) God is Great !
I ambled over into the courtyard and peered in. Imagine my excitement when I saw this !
A GIANT Telephone !!! I know ! Right ! You’d have to be REALLY big to use this phone. Maybe it’s only for extremely important phone calls, like when the President is ringing the UN to order some Chinese take away ? I bet all the Generals and Admirals struggle and sweat and hold it up for him and that he pisses them off by using it to call the talking clock guy.
So suitably overawed ( but badly under dressed) I wandered in and found a fantastic museum full of good and interesting things. A wonderful series of displays on the history of communication.
First, it seems, there were rocks with really cool pictograms giving you the skinny on all the latest. Oh look ! Men on horseback are in the area. We better hide. Eventually I came out from my hiding space and marvelled at the effectiveness of this early technology. Did they have to carry these things around on Mammoths and throw them through your window, like in The Flintstones ?
Then then there was the guy we are not supposed to shoot. The messenger. But I bet plenty of them did get shot, particularly when they bought bills and junk mail.
Pigeons featured, as did guys sending messages using early solar powered technology. Evidently the Emperor Tiberius, an early CEO known for murdering his predecessor and being murdered by his successor, was fond of this sun ray communicating thingy which is probobly called a heliograph but I can’t remember for sure so don’t quote me at a dinner party and make a fool of yourself.
The Ketuk-Ketuk was a popular thing, beaten in the middle of the village whenever the tribe was in danger, which it seems, tribesmen being tribesmen, was quite regularly.
But, if you’re still following this story, I hear you cry, “ why didn’t they just use the big phone in the courtyard”. Because, lovers of knowledge, the magic talking bone was still to be invented.
First we had to invent the bicycle.
So that the Telegraph Clerk could deliver the telegraph. Here are some early telegraphers, also, due to their hands shrivelling from too much use and constant proximity to electrical impulses , the earliest recipients of hand transplants.
Some very sound advice.
How embarrassed they must have been when they realised that the telephone was yet to be invented. This provided a powerful incentive for Italians whose name sounded rather like a type of pasta, hairy Scots, and mad Americans who electrocuted elephants just because they could to get cracking on this urgent project.
Interestingly, Alexander Graham Bell had very hairy ears, which explains why people had to yell into early telephones. In his latter years the constant yelling and internal clotted hair clumps within his ears has quite an effect on the great man. Nor a good effect either.
Eventually after various telegraphic devices (and elephants) came and went the telephone arrived, in a multiplicity of shapes and colours. The first few attempts were grey, as a homage to the elephants sacrifice. This also explains the Origen of the phrase “ A trunk call”.
Most bizarrely Al Jolson is here, apparently ringing his Mammy, although that look he is casting into the receiver does raise some disturbing Oedipal issues. Apparently he does indeed know all too well where the sun shines best.
And so inevitably this led to the telephone operator, beloved by so many songwriters. Here are some.
This, in turn, led to the extraordinary Miss Emma Mills Nutt, who, disturbingly, and to continue our theme, had a memory like an elephant and would work for peanuts. Was Dr Moreau in league with AG Bell ?
Telephone books in on those days were full of great advice. I miss this kind of stuff and feel that it’s sbsence could explain a lot of the ills in modern society. Here are some uplifting examples.
My favourite however is this which finally explains a problem that has worried me for years.
Is this why I always have to answer the phone myself ? I guess so.
Then along came the wireless. Here is a shot of someone receiving the first transmission in 1920 which, apparently, bore the news that that upstart Warren Harding had defeated Calvin Coolidge ! Seriously.
But cheer up my fellow Coolidge fans, it wasn’t all bad news. P Ramlee won the coveted first prize in the Radio Malaya Singing Contest and went on to become a heart throb with fame and fortune, famous from Pedar Besang to Johore.
What with all this singing, radios blaring, bells ringing, I don’t know how my servants managed to sleep through it all. Switchboards operators had to yell to be heard. All was din and chaos, raspy voices became the norm. The solution ? The Miss Golden Voice competition, held among Malaya’s telephonists to see who could most sweetly murmur “ Hold the line please” Again, I’m not making this up. Here are some of them .
Amazed and overwhelmed I fled, not daring to go to the next floor where domething called the computometron or some such thing lurked, the natural successor to the abacus combined with the tin cans joined by a string. I’d seen enough and had more than my 11 Ringgits worth.
One more lovely surprise on the way out, Tony and Que.
And before you ask no, he was not the Que-rator (boom Tish) but a budding entrepreneur keen to, believe it or not, export kangaroo meat to China. I (perhaps cruelly) suggested he get in touch with Austrade, knowing this would give our bouncing buddies a good head start,
i think you’ll agree, putting all hyperbole aside, that this is the Greatest Museum in the whole wide World !!! I should know, I worked in several of the worst ones. Go and see it !