Little bits of plastic

You could put these on the till in your shop to show that you accepted the daringly modern devices known as credit cards. Today, it’s more usual for merchants to put out signs when they don’t take them.

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

For more than a century, telegrams brought urgent messages: bad news, congratulations at weddings, and announcements of new babies. Telegraph operators transmitted messages over wires by Morse code; these were printed out and hand-delivered by a messenger, often on a bicycle. Not exactly instant, then, but effective.

News flash!

The announcer would say something sober and sombre, such as, “We are sorry to interrupt this programme, but…” Then a pause, giving you enough time and enough cold, creeping dread to wonder if the nation had declared war, a tsunami was about to reach your house, or we were about to hear the four-minute warning.


Teletext was like an incredibly arthritic internet. But, when you didn’t have any internet at all, and hadn’t even imagined one, it was like lightning. Before the web, the only way to find out what was happening right now was to wait for the next TV or radio bulletin to air. But Ceefax could get there first.