Teletextual healing

Who remembers Teletext? No, not that imposter you get on digital channels nowadays – the real Teletext. It was an information service consisting of a black screen with multi-coloured text and pictures that all looked like they were made of Lego. It was a kind of prehistoric Internet, except that 90% of its information was devoted to horse-racing and cheap holidays, rather than pornography and viral clips of eccentric pets.

Seriously, those horse-racing enthusiasts couldn’t get enough of that Teletext, as I discovered the first time I entered the secret world of the betting shop, all those years ago. That was a pleasant experience. I didn’t place any bets because it’s a massive con (ever heard of a poor bookie? No, neither have I), but I did like watching those primitive pixels glowing and flickering on all those television sets. I suppose they reminded me of my ZX Spectrum. My aunt had the service on her battered old TV, and I recall the noise it made whenever Teletext changed page. It was something like, ‘rrrrrrrrr, aaaaaaahhhhhhh, zzzzzzzz’. You don’t get those sounds on digital television, no Sir! Those buzzing noises were the soundtrack to my youth – or, at least while I was playing ‘Bamboozle’, in any case. The best thing about it, however, was ‘Digitiser’, one of the greatest video games magazines in human history. With their madcap and often subversive humour, creators Mr. Biffo and Mr. Hairs brought joy to millions of sniggering adolescents. They also introduced new catchphrases into the English language, like ‘moc moc-a-moc’ and ‘I cuss you bad’. The weekend edition was an absolute gem, with even more silliness. Here’s an interesting fact: do you know what chavs were called in the 1990s? ‘Puffy Jackets’. That’s right, those loathsome thugs used to wear bomber jackets before switching to hooded sweaters; I learned that from Digitiser. Alas, in 2003, Digi was replaced by a soulless and lobotomised games mag, mindlessly stating facts and telling us that all new video games were good. Sic transit gloria mundi!

Have a look at what we’ve been missing all these years:

Comedy gold. I’d love to show more, particularly sketches of Morse & Lewis and those beat-boxing snakes, but there aren’t that many screenshots available on the internet for me to pilfer. They’ll have to live on in our memories.

I really miss the pre-digital Teletext. Now, I’m not such a Luddite that I don’t appreciate the benefits that technological innovations have brought us – what man wouldn’t love to own a USB-connection refrigerator or a motion-sensitive lavatory light? Nevertheless, there was something charmingly antiquated about that old information service that makes its successor appear sterile by comparison. Press reveal to find out why:



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