Monica Dyson: The long goodbye to personal service

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WITH the news that analysis of the Beatles album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is to be included in the GCSE music syllabus, I started to think just how many things will have disappeared by the end of my lifetime, relegated to the history books.

Today I wrote a cheque. Not something which I do very often, as my purse is now taken over by small cards.

But it seems that Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheque books in the next year or so. It costs the financial system billions each year to process cheques, and it is oldies like me who are the only ones using them. In future, there won’t be anyone who doesn’t use the internet, and it wouldn’t surprise me if, before very long computers, either laptop or desktop will also be a thing of the past when everyone is using a tablet. Will people have microchips planted in their heads one day, I wonder?

Linked to the end of the cheque is the death of the Post Office. For some years now, local branches have been systematically closing, or housed in a small space at the end of a supermarket counter, causing total gridlock and long queues around the store. No privacy, no space and none of the personal service we knew and loved about our Post Office.

You are probably reading this as part of your daily routine and in the format that you’ve always used, but many do not subscribe to a daily delivered print edition or enjoy a walk to the paper shop. They prefer to get their news courtesy of mobile internet devices. Although it is known as ‘progress’, I’m not so sure. Surely it’s another way of eliminating personal contact and is rather lonely?

The same applies to the demise of the book. I have said that the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn pages will never become a thing of the past. However, I was no longer so sure when I saw how many people were reading ‘e’ books, which, having worked in libraries, I refused to buy, seeing it as the death knell of the book as I’d always known it.

However, it seems that sales of e books are not doing as well as otherwise thought, but that could change when our generation has gone and libraries have been turned into Costa Coffee or Tesco.

And as for the way we listen to music, this seems to me to be one of the saddest changes of all. I never thought CDs would ever catch on, let alone the gadgets used today.

Landline telephones and phone boxes will go the way of the bus conductor and personal service at filling stations.

Will we have joined-up handwriting – in fact handwriting at all? And as for English grammar...

Maps replaced by sat navs – it certainly wouldn’t be the same seeing a Scout leader holding a GPS instead of the traditional map and compass.

All that we will have left soon which can’t be changed are our memories.

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