Once-common Sounds

This list was suggested by this magazine’s editor, Mike Higgins, who proposed dial-up modems and electric milk floats. Telephone-related noises, including the pips when you needed to insert more coins in a phone box (Terry Stiastny), were popular, and I cannot find the old pre-digital UK dialling tone on the internet.

  1. The ratchet and clicker-back of a rotary phone dial Nominated by The G-Man and many others.
  2. Clatter, bell and carriage return of a typewriter From Tom Joyce.
  3. A bus ticket being printed Suggested by Citizen Sane (although I received an appeal from Hull, where the sound is still heard).
  4. Pulsing, grating hum as a dot matrix printer swings back and forth Rob Marchant. (And the noise of a fax machine connecting, adds Lesley Smith.)
  5. Snowstorm sound on TVs Nominated by both Judith Rose Attar and Robert Epstein.
  6. ‘Cldumpf…clpdumf…cldumpf…’ of an LP going round with the needle in the middle. From Martyn Williams. Jake Wilde also nominated scratches on vinyl.
  7. Whistling (of tunes, by people) Suggested by Big Gaz.
  8. ‘Ding-ding’ on buses From Guy Herbert. I also liked the “ding-ding-ding” when the conductor told the driver not to stop.
  9. Library date stamps From Labour History Group.
  10. Clackety clack, clackety clack, clackety clack Nominated by Maggie Lavan: railway tracks are continuous now.

Originally published in the Independent on 17th August 2014.


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