...something to make you smile


1st Person: "Do you know anything about this fax machine?"

2nd Person: "A little. What's wrong?"

1st Person: "Well, I sent a fax, and the recipient called back to say all she received was a cover sheet and a blank page. I tried it again, and the same thing happened."

2nd Person: "How did you load the sheet?"

1st Person: "It's a pretty sensitive memo, and I didn't want anyone else to see it by accident, so I folded it so only the recipient would be able to read it



Lest you think we are the only "nuts" around, I came across an interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal (11th December 1999).

Under the heading of "Collecting," the title is "Today's Art Lesson: Grime Pays." Referring to antique furniture, (but could equally apply to our stuff,) "For today's antiques buffs, the ultimate status symbol is filth." "But rising almost as fast as prices," (sound familiar?) "is an obsession among American buyers with keeping certain pieces in a pristine-read grungy-state."

Describing a chest of drawers... "with dirt and age darkening the finish in the molding and crevices of the piece, could fetch as much as $125,000; zealously cleaned, it might command only about $70,000."

Another item, a 100 year old, table was bought for $1,000,000 in 1986. It was submitted to a "light cleaning" by "professionals." When the piece came up for auction, "potential buyers" were allowed to "inspect the nine year old cotton balls used in the cleaning, to show just how little had been done." "With much of its grime intact, it sold for $2,400,000.

Another buyer bought a card table "that he paid professional restorers to clean. At his direction, he says, 'they did practically nothing.'"

Perhaps we need to reconsider our obsession with cleaning up our old treasures. Just think how much my 75A-4 might be worth if it was really dirty! 73, Garey K4OAH, Atlanta.



There is an interesting article in the November 20, 1999 issue of The Economist (page 102 in the US edition) titled "Callectibles," which describes one of the current US crazes as being the collecting of old telephones. It notes that "many collectors actually use the rotary dial phones that they buy. Indeed many old models are still compatible with current phone networks." It also notes, "One aspect of older phones that attracts aficionados is their reliability. Back in the days when the phone company—not the consumer—owned most phones, it was in the company's interest to provide durable machines that cut down on repair trips."

How we have progressed with the "Made In China" $7.00 telephone with a 90-day guarantee. The instructions with the telephone give you an address in New York where you can get it fixed, by returning it (together with a check for $20), should it fail after expiration of the guarantee. Somehow I feel few of these will last long enough to become "callectibles." [Roger Conklin]



Children as young as 5 are now trading prostitutes' calling cards. The cards, which hookers leave in telephone booths to solicit customers, have long been a problem in England, with an average of 13 million being trashed by British Telecom every year. "We have received complaints about this problem from several schools but we are not disclosing which ones," said a Westminster council spokeswoman. "We understand that children are swapping them and forming collections." (Press Association)



During a Royal visit to New Zealand a friend and a telegraphist followed the official party in a P.O. truck and at every stopover they set up three teleprinter lines. One to Wellington, London and Buckingham Palace. This was in the days before STD and such.

 One afternoon they were set up for an overnight stay at a farm and having set up their test messages which you could imagine were rather frivolous were sitting in their truck when the door opened and in came the Duke, who said he had been fascinated by this truck following them everywhere and what did they do?

They showed him around and he asked if he could send a message.

He typed on the Palace circuit:  "The Duke here. How is the weather tonight?

Back came:  "Liz here. It is a lovely day"

A few more messages changed ends and the Duke bade them farewell and went back to officialdom. My friend tells me that a bit later a message arrives:  "Was that really the Duke?".

"Yes I am afraid it was."

Uh-oh. There goes my pension."

Obviously the Duke enjoyed it and possibly dined out on it several times and the hapless servant reached retirement OK. [Contributed by Ron Kay]


"ADVISE ... Due to over traffic on the telephone network, units could be charged, even in cases that calls are not connected." [Exact wording of a notice spotted in a Portuguese hotel by Rob Grant.]


Here is a strange-but-true story. A subscriber had an old GEC loudspeaking ALST master, the sort with a nice louvred wooden cabinet and a red Kellog key bang in the middle of the front panel. I went in to do an inspection and he said that frequently when he went in very early in the morning he was sitting at his desk when suddenly the Kellogg key pressed itself down and dialling tone came on! I said it was impossible. Anyway, I went in at 8a.m. one morning and sure enough the key was all ready down and dialling tone was on the line. He later solved the mystery himself! He went in extra early and found that the cleaners had pressed the key down but no dialling tone was on the line. Suddenly the tone faded on. What was happening was that the mains was switched off at night and of course when they switched on the mains up came the dialling tone! The PAX in question was a 25-line GEC rotary and had no PG throw-off.

At ICI Millbank there was a ghost in the switchroom. Various strange things happened, and some engineers refused to go in. I had prepared an ivory 332 to go on to a line upstairs. I went to look at the site and when I returned, the switchroom door was shut and locked and the lights out. On opening the door there was some resistance to its motion, but when I went to the 332 I found that the BT had vanished. I could not find it anywhere, so had to use a black one instead. Later I found the ivory BT slung in a far corner on the floor near the battery room. Sometimes the battery room door could be heard opening and shutting again of itself, and on one occasion a pair of 81s flew across the room and hit a junior trainee on the forehead. Nasty! That area of London does seem to have more than its share of ghosts. [Alan Gildersleve]



In the second such incident in the Southwest, a San Diego woman purchased a large cactus during the redecoration of her home. The huge cactus was a fitting centerpiece for her "New Southwest" look, and she was quite happy with her $3,000 purchase—for a while.

A few days later, she noticed that the big cactus seemed to be swaying...and humming. Bewildered and not knowing where else to turn, she dialled the emergency number 9-1-1 and—fortunately for her—got an operator who knew what this un-cactus-like behavior meant. She was told to clear out of the house immediately—like right now!—and wait for an emergency team. The responding five-man team had just enough time to move the huge cactus into the back yard before it burst wide open, scattering about a thousand tarantulas in all directions.

The nursery where she had purchased the cactus refunded her $3,000 and paid for exterminator service for the entire block. When asked later how her plants were, the lady replied, "Plastic and silk, thank you!"

The fashion of using cacti for home decoration is fairly new, but tarantulas have been using them for mass breeding farms for a long, long time.



A young BT engineer was doing his area training with an old hand. They were called to a house of an old lady. They noticed that the front door was charred and the hall was smoke blackened and full of soot. The telephone was a melted mass of plastic and the metal dial was imbedded in the wall across the hall, even the wiring had blasted out of the wall. There had been a lightning strike on the drop wire. The old lady's first words were: "Do you think you can fix it?"



Old telephone books make ideal personal address books. Simply cross out the names and addresses of people you don't know.

Fool other drivers into thinking you have an expensive car phone by holding an old TV or video remote control up to your ear and occasionally swerving across the road and mounting the kerb.


A favourite tale of retired telephone engineer Phil Goodwin concerns the time many years ago when he went to repair an old lady’s telephone and it turned out to be a Tele. 121, a wood-cased wall model. Jovially he remarked this old phone must have seen a long life, with which she concurred. Without any sense of the ridiculous, she said: “Yes, it’s so old that I remember when they came to remove the gas pipe from it.” She was convinced it had worked by gas, and not her own gassing either.



A new lad at an exchange in the London area was asked to run in wiring for a door bell on the back door of the building up to the manual board's supervisors' room  and was pointed in the direction of reels of wire and told to use the black stuff. After several hours of work the lad discovered he had laid in two nicely parallel strands of lacing cord. [Contributed by Bernard Green.]




In mid­May, Alison McKenzie of Peterhead, north-east Scotland, rang an environmental 24-hour helpline run by Aberdeenshire Council to complain about an “absolutely green” chorizo sausage she had bought from the local Safeway store. Two weeks later, a glitch in a British Telecom computer put her message on the major incident voicebank of most British police forces, and sent it to every BT pager in the country beginning with the number 01426. Mrs McKenzie was besieged with calls from bemused doctors, nurses, carers, businessmen and police forces asking how she thought they could help.  Daily Telegraph, Guardian, 4th May2000.



A telegraph pole originally located beside the Severn Valley Railway at Sterns, between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade, has moved 20 yards from the track as a result of successive landslips over the years.

Stabilising the railway embankment at the notorious 5mph blackspot to prevent further slippage into the River Severn has been a costly but regular occupational hazard for the SVR—just as it was for British Railways and the GWR before it.

In 1995, following severe flooding and in an effort to check the relentless downhill slides, the railway dropped 3,000 tons of stone into the river. But the wandering telegraph pole—now only just visible among the trees—- remains as testimony to the SVR’s biggest recurring civil engineering headache. Steam Railway, June/July 2000.



A man telephoned an airline office in New York and asked, "How long does it  take to fly to Boston?"

The clerk said, "Just a minute."

"Thank you," the  man said and hung up.



Fake mobile phones which fire bullets are flooding into western Europe. A cargo of fake mobile phones which fire bullets has been intercepted on its way from the Balkans to Britain, France and Germany. The mobile case contains four chambers that hold .22 ammunition. Pressing the keypad primes and triggers the firing mechanism. The chamber is selected by hitting buttons 5,6,7 or 8 and then the 'Connect' button fires the weapon. The weapon is fatal at close range. The bullets are detonated using high tension springs, which can be cranked to the bottom of the casing using a winding mechanism disguised as an aerial. "You cannot tell these mobile phones are weapons. It is only when you have one in your hand that you realise they are heavier," Birgit Heib of the German Federal Criminal Investigation Agency told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

A Croatian carrying ten of the mobile phone guns was intercepted by Swiss police. But thousands of the weapons are thought to be in circulation in western Europe. German police are even being advised to draw their weapons if a suspect pulls out a mobile phone. [New Scientist, December 2000]

Back to index