In the days before the internet

What did people do to entertain themselves in the days before the internet?  Let’s think?  We had: 

  • TV to watch programmes
  • CB radio in the early 80’s for the fun of communicating with each other over the airwaves.  “What’s your handle, good bud?  Candlewax?  Have you got boots on?  You’re bending my needle,” etc, generally with some guy sitting in their back bedroom about three houses away from you
  • The pub as a way to talk to people about politics, the price of fish, show your holiday photos, and so on, rather than bulletin boards

The question is, what did people do in pre-internet days when they wanted to do a bit of trolling?  Let’s define what trolling is, before we go further.

In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

Hence the verb, to troll, and the gerundial form, trolling.

Here’s what one couple, Alpha and Papa Golf, used to do.

Holidays in Tenerife, one huge old folks home for Brits and Germans.  Hence a multitude of British and German pubs.  Alpha and Papa Golf decide to visit a German pub.  Having served in Germany, Alpha Golf speaks reasonable German.  Our two protagonists sit down and engage in conversation with their fellow customers.  All of a sudden, Alpha Golf winks at Papa Golf and suddenly tells the Germans at his table,

Do you know, actually, I think Hitler did a good job for Germany.


Looks of horror all round.  He mentioned Hitler.  He praised Hitler.  All in the same sentence.  

Horrified Germans (chorally):

How can you say that?

Alpha Golf:

Well, think logically.  He built the Autobahns.

Horrified Germans (chorally):

Well, yes… that is true, I suppose.


Alpha Golf:

Inflation and unemployment were never a problem under him.


Horrified Germans (chorally):

Also true.


Alpha Golf:

He brought us the Volkswagen…


Horrified Germans (chorally):

Well, that is true, but…


Alpha Golf then sits back and then watches a heated debate in German among the Germans about the merits and failings of Hitler, the decibel levels now enough to drown out Concorde.  Never mind the Beer Hall Putsch, this was about to turn into the Beer Hall Punch-Up.

Come on, Papa, our job’s done.  Let’s vapourise.


And that is how people used to troll in the days before the internet.

Have a troll-free day, won’t you!


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