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Miss Marple? I say — something dreadful has happened at Badger House!


They say we got a month’s worth of rain in one night last night. I believe it, too — we took a drive around today, and most of the fields hereabouts have been magically transformed into lakes. With ducks on!

One of the casualties was our house telephone. There was a leak in the roof right above the kitchen table and it got soaked through. None of the buttons worked.

So we set off to buy a new one.

And came back with this one. The one in the picture. No, really — they’ve jiggered it so it does all the modern British Telecom dealies. It dials out, it rings (rings! with a bell!). It’s made of Bakelite, it weighs fifty pounds, and that thing at the bottom is a brass handle. Presumably so I can do preacher curls and build my biceps while I chat with my girlfriends. As if.

We went in to a clock shop to shop for a clock, and they had about twenty of these. We had to walk around the block a few times to convince ourselves. Despite the Bell Labs on the label and the phone number in English, this one is Belgian.

‘Allo? Allo? Monsieur Poirot? Quelque chose terrible s’est produite à Maison Blaireau!


Comment from Gnus
Time: February 10, 2009, 8:02 pm

So all you can do is listen? Things are different in old blighty.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 10, 2009, 8:06 pm

No, no…it’s fully functional! I don’t think we can do that in the States, can we? I biffed a couple of old princess phones on the way out.

The sound ain’t bad, either.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: February 10, 2009, 8:24 pm

HA!! It’s beautiful! What’s next – a vacuum tube computer? With punch cards even! 😉

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: February 10, 2009, 8:36 pm

“Yes? This is Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau having speaks on the Pheun. Does your dog bite?”

I bet the handset alone weighs pounds. I love it.

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: February 10, 2009, 8:48 pm

Be wary of the Bakelite phone! The Baekeland family has a history worthy of Miss Marple.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 10, 2009, 9:08 pm

It’s quite spooky to dial a number with a number dial again. The feel of it, the sound of it…gosh, it takes me back. And a phone with a bell! The sound is a little scary, to be frank. We’re already talking about another one for the kitchen.

Very cool, df. I’ve always had a Bakelite fetish, but I didn’t know the fambly history.

Comment from Mrs. Hill
Time: February 10, 2009, 9:17 pm

“that thing at the bottom is a brass handle.

Sooooo shiiiny — and portable! Anyone else remember when exchanges were in English? My Aunt’s number started out “Kenmore six . . .” And then there were the ‘party lines’ — some friends were on one. We evil children liked to quietly pick up and listen in on a ring pattern that we knew full well was not theirs — bad kids! Anyhow, that’s not just a ‘phone, it’s an instrument — purty!

Comment from iamfelix
Time: February 10, 2009, 9:30 pm

It’s beyooteeful. And yeah, they do it here, too. My mom, the Art Deco nut, got some old refurb phones from a catalog several years ago. The aren’t that purty, tho, but def old-fashioned & cool.

Comment from iamfelix
Time: February 10, 2009, 9:31 pm

And thanks for the Bakelite link, McGoo. Another thing my mom was fascinated by. Wish she was still around so’s I could linky to her.

Comment from armybrat
Time: February 10, 2009, 9:35 pm

you have a phone just for your house?! That’s soooo…….retro? And cool retro phone to go with it! I might even get a landline for a phone like that.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 10, 2009, 9:40 pm

Does anyone else get the ‘I can’t make this thing diaaaal dream?

I used to think it was just me who had nightmares where the dial stuck, or went slower… and…. slower…and… sloooooowwwwweeeerrrrr…

Apparently, it’s quite a common theme. I wonder why?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: February 10, 2009, 9:50 pm

iamfelix – That excellent Bakelite link was from dfbaskwill, not me. But if it was from me, you’d be welcome!

Comment from iamfelix
Time: February 10, 2009, 9:57 pm

Ah, I’m getting punchy … long day. Thanks, dfb!!

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: February 10, 2009, 10:13 pm

You are welcome, all. The world of plastic is wondrous isn’t it? Read the book, don’t see the movie. And try to work at something constructive instead of sponging off your grandfather’s hard-earned millions. It’s a cautionary tale of our times.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 10, 2009, 10:18 pm

There may be a (technical) limit to the number of old phones we can have. These puppies apparently draw quite a lot of juice, and a single line only gets so much…

Comment from Jill
Time: February 10, 2009, 10:32 pm

A Frenchie patented the rotary dial mechanism in ’22 or ’23 thereabouts.

Comment from Nicholas the Slide
Time: February 10, 2009, 10:36 pm

“Yes? This is Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau having speaks on the Pheun. Does your dog bite?”

LMAO 😆 Inspector Clouseau, ah I miss the original. I refuse to see the travesty that just came out.

Comment from Joan of Argghh!
Time: February 10, 2009, 10:49 pm

A thing of surpassing wantage. Want. Very much want.

“That is not my dog…”

Comment from Nortius Maximus
Time: February 10, 2009, 11:51 pm

In the US, there’s a thing called a REN (Ringer Equivalence Number), and a classic 400 or 500 series phone has a rating of 1.0. Most modern solid state phones are around a 0.3 rating or so. US telcom standards used to say 3.0 total per house (without special affordances) if I recall correctly. Not sure about British regs.

Comment from Jill
Time: February 11, 2009, 12:23 am

From ‘Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid’:

“You know how to dial, don’t you? You just put your finger in the hole and make a tiny little circle.”

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 11, 2009, 7:40 am

Funny you should mention that one, Nortius. I used those very words to her Ladyship yesterday – only to get ‘lookit the geek!’ face.

Interesting we use the same terms on both sides of the pond, for once!

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: February 11, 2009, 11:32 am

The phone was made when form and function were both design qualities. It is art. I am envious.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: February 11, 2009, 12:21 pm

Yeah. It really is beautiful. Plus it’s sufficiently massive to double as a murder weapon, should the need arise.

Comment from Dawn
Time: February 11, 2009, 12:58 pm

Gibby can always find the murder weapon in any post.

Armybrat – we don’t have a landline either. But there is this…


Comment from JuliaM
Time: February 11, 2009, 2:19 pm

“…sufficiently massive to double as a murder weapon..”

But isn’t Bakelite brittle? Think of the cleanup! Those CSIs can find fragments in the weirdest places… 😉

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: February 11, 2009, 3:51 pm

I have an old phone like that, from the 60s, and it works great still – except the ringer doesn’t ring (yes, its a bell). I like dialing with a circular dial, and I like the old receiver, you can tuck it under your cheek without dialing new numbers or hanging up accidentally.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: February 11, 2009, 4:12 pm

One of my good friends at Church will be a police officer. If I mention “CSI” in front of him, he goes on a long, passionate rant on how CSI is bad, wrong, and harmful.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 11, 2009, 4:17 pm

Oh, Musli, don’t get me started! I’m a true crime fan from way back — since before Quincy (which was also bad), let alone the CSI series. The only time I ever watch a CSI is on the plane over the Atlantic, and I hoot and hop up and down in my seat every time they make a bonehead error. Which is a lot of hooting and hopping, let me tell you!

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a forensic pathologist. Then I found out there was math involved.

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: February 11, 2009, 4:25 pm

Ah, math. It has leveled many of us. I wish I could be a Physicist!

Comment from Dawn
Time: February 11, 2009, 5:44 pm

If I had a friend who went on long passionate rants about a subject, I would find ways to make sure that subject got brought up a lot.
Maybe you could get his wife to change his plates to a vanity plate “CSI FAN” or throw a themed CSI party for his next birthday.

Comment from porknbean
Time: February 11, 2009, 5:52 pm

I would have loved to have gone into pathology but my sooper sonic sniffer would not have faired well with ‘ripe’ or some chemical smells.

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: February 11, 2009, 6:29 pm

My cadaver at Medical School turned out to be imperfectly preserved. We discovered this as we dissected the heart and ascending aorta, noting that the gentleman died of a thoracic aortic aneurysm, almost always indicative of tertiary syphilis! It was hard to go back to Anatomy Class the next day. But (thankfully!) there’s always another body to fill the need.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 11, 2009, 6:53 pm

Tertiary syphilis! My mother used to tell me about watching the old syphilitic dudes in the French Quarter in New Orleans try to walk across the street and forget how halfway across.

Her cat cadaver in nursing school had a double aorta. Woo!

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: February 11, 2009, 7:08 pm

A tourism advertisement in the making for the revitalization of New Orleans! It’s amazing that the French Quarter was just about the only area not wiped out by the flood.

Comment from armybrat
Time: February 11, 2009, 8:06 pm

Dawn, that was cool!

My cadaver at PT school was purple colored. I kid you not. Apparently the poor guy had some chemo or radiation right before he passed that reacted with the preservative and left him a not so attractive plum color. And he lived a hard life…we recovered a bullet.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: February 12, 2009, 12:34 am

Well, how appropriate for those of us in hunkerdown mode while the new Commie Kiddies play in Washington. A phone I can talk in or beat an intruder to death with.

I’m very into dual usage.

Comment from Drew458
Time: February 12, 2009, 2:48 pm

What a lovely old phone. What does the little button on the front do?

Comment from Dave in Texas
Time: February 15, 2009, 10:16 pm


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