Blue passports

For more than 70 years, a 32-page passport with a dark blue cover, with the lion and unicorn crest in gold was the identification UK citizens needed to leave their island. After Brexit, one of the most urgent and vital questions needs answering: Could the blue passport come back?

Paper £5 notes

Bye bye, Elizabeth Fry. Today in England and Wales is the last day on which you can spend your paper £5 notes, the ones which bear her image, in shops. From midnight tonight, those notes where you can glimpse the prison reformer reading to prisoners at Newgate will no longer be legal tender.

Bus conductors

Bus conductors were the people who used to sell you your bus tickets. They printed tickets from portable machines slung over their shoulders, helped passengers on and off, and rang the bell to tell the driver when it was safe to pull away from the bus stop.

Oddly punctuated messages ALL IN CAPITALS

The telegram largely met its worldwide demise on 15 July 2013, when India, the last country to use the telegram on a wide scale, stopped sending them. For more than a century and half, telegrams brought urgent messages: bad news, congratulations at weddings, and announcements of new babies. Telegraph operators transmitted messages over wires by…

News flash!

We hardly have these any more. A newsflash arrived when the broadcasters interrupted a scheduled television programme. They stopped what you were watching to bring you momentous news that they figured you needed to know. Now. The announcer would say something sober and sombre, such as, “We are sorry to interrupt this programme, but…” Then…


On 23 October 2012, at 23:32 British Summer Time, Ceefax died. Ceefax (“see facts”) was the world’s first teletext information service. It was developed by BBC engineers who were testing out ways of providing television subtitles for the deaf (closed captioning). After some test transmissions, the Ceefax system was properly born on 23 September 1974,…

The little white dot

The little white dot is something that used to happen on your television screen. Every night. The pictures would end and a little white dot would appear in the middle of a black screen. The broadcasters had stopped broadcasting for the night. Stop broadcasting? Yes! They used to simply… stop. Hard as it is to…