Record request

Back in 1966 my grandparents celebrated their Golden Wedding. I’m sure it was my sister who decided it would be lovely if the BBC played a record request for them. She sent off a request to a suitable programme – nothing too trite for Granny and Grandad and as far as I remember the record she chose for them was a piece of light classical music.

I don’t think anybody realised that Granny and Grandad would be informed that a request was to be played by telegram.

image002

This envelope was delivered to them by the telegram boy.

I wonder what emotions this stirred. It is hard to think back fifty years and remember what the world was like – or our part of it, here in the UK. Many people, my grandparents included, had no telephone. If an urgent message needed to be got to someone you sent a telegram. If you had a phone you could use it to start the process by telling someone what your message was. This was passed to an office near the destination where it was printed out and put in an envelope. A telegram boy then used whatever transport was appropriate to deliver the message.

Often, a telegram was not good news. It quite likely told of the death of a family member so the arrival of a telegram was often treated in a very downbeat way. But this one was OK for inside the message said…

image004The message tells us that the request was planned for as programme called ‘Home this Afternoon’ – appropriate as Radio 4 was then called the Home Service. This programme was aimed at an older audience – like my grandparents. It was played on 3rd February, just days after the Golden Wedding and had been sent from London to Hastings before delivery to grandparents in Bexhill.

But it is the whole nature of telegrams that just seems so archaic now – fifty years on from that Golden Wedding.

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