Home

Childhood memories

The standard public telephone of the day had the earpiece hanging on a hook on the side of the phone, the mouthpiece in the middle, above the coin receptacle, and a slot into which you could put two pennies. When you picked up the earpiece, and put your pennies in the slot, you could dial the number you wanted, but if it answered you could not speak until you had pressed the button, releasing the pennies into the tin. Trinity had a public phone in a cubicle under the stairs in Clarkes, on the way out to the Wooden Wing. Some enterprising student had soldered two pennies to a piece of wire, and they were hanging on a nail behind the door.

So when you wanted to use the phone you dropped the pennies on their wire down the chute, and then when you had finished you pulled them out again and put them back on the nail.

This went on until one day a PMG technician (probably sent to collect the coins) asked a freshman where the phone was, and he replied "Underneath the stairs. The pennies are hanging behind the door." That was the end of that lurk.

One of the students was what would now be called a nerd. He knew all the PMG test codes so that he could make the phone do all sorts of interesting things, like receiving calls, to the confusion of students wanting to make a call from it. He also had a number of appliances, but there was only one power point in his study, so, instead of building a Christmas tree of double adapters as everyone else did, he got some bare wire and ran two wires along the back of his desk. Then he took the plugs off all his appliances, and replaced them with crocodile clips, and when he wanted to use an appliance he simply clipped it to the wires.

This was a bit dangerous, and strictly against regulations, and the authorities were not amused when they discovered. However the student considered that the risks were trivial, and I gather that he reached a ripe old age.

 © Roger Riordan 2004-2019

More Pranks