The television news service Ceefax came to an end this week, the arrival of nationwide digital television having brought about the end of the analogue service on which it ran. In truth, I haven’t used it for years and it would be hypocritical of me to say that I will miss it any more than I miss VHS cassettes* or a dial-up internet connection.**

In fact, it must be a good seven or eight years since I last even thought of Ceefax. That would have been when I was looking for traffic alerts before going on a journey. All of the other things I used it to check – cricket scores, flight arrivals, the weather – had long since been much easier and quicker to find on the internet.

Back in 1994, when I was living in a grotty shared house in Reading for four months, I did become addicted to the two daily quizzes which they ran on there. There was no prize, just the satisfaction of knowing that you had done well. It was pretty time consuming, though. With one question per page, and the pages remaining on screen for around 20 seconds each, it took a good 15 minutes to get through both quizzes.

Or it would have done for normal people. I had to do each quiz until I had got all of the answers right. Curiously, this was easier on the general knowledge quiz – presented by Bamber Boozler (‘bamboozle’, geddit?) – because on the communal television there was a way to get the screen to reveal the correct answer if you pressed a certain combination of buttons fast enough.

Fortunately, when I moved out and into my own place that trick didn’t work on my own television and my interest in the game died a death. From then on I rarely used the service and indeed my most recent memories of it are of sitting in my former in-laws’ living room*** in Coventry watching the football scores scroll over and over whilst everyone in the house took an afternoon nap.

*Although at least with these you could fast forward through the annoying adverts
**I admit that there was a certain strange sense of anticipation in listening to the dial-up tone and wondering if you’d ever be connected
***Steve, my former brother-in-law, used to refer to the service as ‘Gagfax’, though I never found out why

About Richard

Just your less-than-average married father of one
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