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Thirty two digits

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Thirty two digits to call my baby on the telephone
I need thirty two digits because I’m so far from home
Get one number wrong and I’ll be on my own …

I’ve got one hand on the phone card
One hand on the phone
One hand for my credit card
Where did my fourth hand go?
I’ve got those thirty two digit phone card calling blues.

Remember the time before modern telephony? When a telephone had one function: to enable you to converse with people not physically present. Or the early days of mobile phones, the age of Nokia, when the device wouldn’t work on different continents?

PhoneboxTen years ago whilst travelling, I’d just played in a venue called the Southern Cross Blues Bar in Christchurch, but needed to make a call back home. These were the days of the phone card. You bought the card in a newsagent’s, and it allowed you to make relatively cheap international calls. Simply enter the 12 to 16 digit number¬†before dialling the international access code (if you knew it for the country you were in), the country code, city code, the number you wanted. Then if you had no change, your 16 digit credit card number, and expiry date (6 more digits). Imagine also performing these numerical tasks from a public telephone box, using an electro-mechanical dialling mechanism whilst reading the number you wanted from your old single band Nokia whose battery is fading. Add the confounding effect of a couple of beers …

After many false starts, I did get through eventually. You can hear what happened next by following the link to the rest of the song (after a couple of guitar solos!)

Thirty-two digits
by Doctor D, performed at Billy Bob’s BBQ Jam, the Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide.

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