The art of technical communication

First published in Blogs 2013 Redditch Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by

Communication is so important and it’s moved on a long way since I was a youngster.  At that time, in the fifties, I used to wait for the postman to see if he had any letters from my pen friends and our family was very popular in our little colliery street, as we were the first to get a telephone.  Instead of walking about a half a mile to use the nearest public telephone, any neighbour who had a need to make a call could use our state of the art black phone with dial feature but only if they paid for the call.

Comparing now with back then, life is so quick and you can’t escape it, as most people have a mobile phone, some mobile phone owners still have land line telephones in their own homes and computers can now do the work for you via Skype and whatever other systems are out there.

Well, it’s not like that in Spain!

I’d say that the first thing to get used to, and also the most stressful part of living in Spain, is to realise that communication isn’t as you once knew it.

Back in 2006, we had thought that, as we had put in our request for a telephone two years before we arrived to live in Galicia, the telephone would definitely be in place when we got there, yet the company had no evidence of us registering an interest and we had to apply again.  And all of this done in the most difficult of circumstances.  I had to stand in a telephone box, keep the concertina-style door shut with one foot, support the telephone hand-piece between my chin and shoulder, steady the paper with my left elbow and both write and insert more money with my right hand.  My ‘O’ level Spanish had been lifted down from the shelf I placed it on some seventeen years earlier but I hadn’t a clue what the woman was saying on the other end of the phone.

Try again.  Okay, so we needed to register again and wait.

Many moons later, we thought we were back in the land of the living on the communication front, only to find that the digital phone only worked if the weather was behaving.  Now let me clarify.  If it was raining, we lost the signal.  If there was a storm, we had to unplug all electrical devices (and still do), in case it blew the works.  If we were enjoying the summer heat of Spain, it didn’t work and, to top the lot, if the digital phone wasn’t working, then the mobile wasn’t working either.

Internet?  Forget it.  We lived in a valley and the telecommunications company had no intentions of putting telephone poles in for such a sparsely-populated area.  No line, no internet. Oh, the stress of it all.

Now I know you’re thinking, Skype, wi-fi (or, as they say here, wiffy) and all other manner of things which I cannot put a label on but these systems only came to our rescue in 2010.  Then, we really were back in the land of communication.

For all you youngsters who were born in the years of technology, can you even begin to imagine what it must have been like before mobile phones and computer communication systems?  Life was indeed simpler and that wasn’t always bad ……. .

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