Tab Tries – Time Travel

TALIA RICHARD-CARVAJAL and MONA EBERT attempted to go a regular day as their 1961 Mad Men-inspired alter-egos, spending 24 hours(ish) without any modern technology whatsoever. Read how they got on here.

1960s Blackberry Coalition david cameron Homerton iPhone Mad Men Mobile Phone Nick Clegg protest Rosa Parks technology The Union top-up fees

Talia and Mona attempted to go a regular day as their 1961 Mad Men-inspired alter-egos, Maud and Betsy. These two Mad Women spent the day without technology, debit cards or retorts to casual sexism.


10.34am (Mona, A.K.A. ‘Maud’): Where the fuck is Betsy? We definitely agreed to meet in the buttery for breakfast, but instead I am here, alone. Oh yeah, and my 60s lounge dress makes me look like Mrs. Robinson. I am not keen on this whole pre-mobile era thing. I just have to remember what they told me in rehab. I don’t need that shit.


10.30am (Talia, A.K.A.’Betsy’): I’m struggling to zip up the ten pound Primark sixties-lookalike dress that’s falling apart at the seams. I can hear my phone buzzing – seeing as I’ve lost Maud, I think it’s OK to answer (it’s not – Ed) and check Facebook one last time (also not OK – Ed). Put on some red lipstick and some dusty old mink and head towards the buttery. Problem is that I can’t get out of the building, since swipe cards haven’t been invented yet. Once outside (a friendly stranger helped me out after a few odd glances) it naturally starts raining. Grey skies. The day is against me.

10.45am: Oh, hey there, Betsy. Thanks for being late. We need to fill a box with all our anachronous possessions and hide it.

10.50am: Betsy – don’t you lie to me. Either your boobs are buzzing or you’ve hidden your phone down them. Your whining won’t work on me.

10.55am: Maud confiscates my phone. Great. What’s worse, she starts a tally for every time I mention it. We’re on five already.

10.56am: She lies. We’re on twelve.

11am: Feeling depressed, we decide to try out our new cigarette holders. As we huddle under a broken umbrella – Maud clad in a floor length lounge dress and us both looking fit for the opera – fellow students from various years make it clear from their stares that we look like twats.

11.02am: Cigarette holders are lame. We are lamer.

11.10am: It’s time to make a plan for the day. Having alienated everyone at college, we decide to go into town. We deliberate walking but decide on taking a bus. Yes, we’re at Homerton.

11.15am: Betsy disputes our bus-riding ability. I scour my mind for 60s bus-references… Oh yeah, Rosa Parks was on a bus in the 60s. They definitely existed. Thank you, Horrible Histories.

11.15am: I scout the bus for a seat and choose one next to a woman, who was probably around my age in 1961.

11.16am: Smile at said pensioner.

11.17am: Why are you judging me?! You used to love dresses like this! Don’t you give me that look.

11.45am: Really exhausted – the coat is heavy, the dress is itchy. Time for a sausage – the only one we’ll get today.

11.46am: In the words of Larkin, sexual intercourse began in 1963…



12 noon: After a well deserved rest, we decide to find some friends. Briefly consider leaving letters in pigeon holes but decide against the effort. Hit the nearest college and start knocking on friends’ doors – embarrassingly only one of them is in. Pour our hearts out to her but she’s writing an essay so we decide it’s best we leave. Time for a drink.

12.15pm: Find a pub. In true sixties spirit I order a Campari soda but apparently these are just as archaic as my outfit, so opt for a Bloody Mary.

12.30pm: I’m a little drunk.

1pm: We pluck up our courage and head back outside. Putting our faith in serendipity, we sit on the King’s Parade. The only people we run into are protesters. We deliberate running away, but then, what the hell – it’s the sixties right? So Betsy and Maud join the procession; the heat of the moment comes over us. We really get quite passionate. Decide to hide the cigarette holders though – don’t think those would go down well.

1.15pm: The protest is starting to become a little frustrating. At first, Betsy and I shy away from the dirty looks our outfits are attracting, but then we begin to question this. We understand that it would be only fair to give Betsy’s fur coat the stink-eye if this was an animal rights protest, but it is not. Why can’t we wear vintage (Burleigh street Oxfam) mink and disagree with education cuts?

1.30pm: After an exhausting dive into activism, we leave our new friends  on Trinity Street. I spot an oasis – two friends sitting by the window in Tattie’s. Again, I try to make them sympathise with our hardships but am put back in my place: ‘basically, you get to run around all day in costumes and drink.’ I guess its not too bad. I want to make plans for Bonfire Night but I don’t see how that’s possible without my phone (that’s eight on my tally). My friends have supervisions, lectures, etc. We’re left with a bottle of iced tea.

2pm: We’ve become philosophical in our boredom. This day is moving very slowly – something we’re not used to here where a week to do an essay goes by in a heartbeat. We conclude that no one takes the time to really sit on a cold and wet bench anymore and appreciate a miserable day.

2.01pm: This is probably because doing so is masochistic. This is not a time for nostalgia. Some innovations are great.

4.30pm: Sick of being judged (even by old grannies), I drag Maud to The Union, hoping that the bar will be open. It is not. The sofas however, are a bit more relevant to the anachronism we represent. Bored of each others’ company, we order a coffee and dive into some Virginia Woolf. I spot a TV in the corner and strategically position myself towards it. I hope Maud won’t notice, judging by what she did to my phone (that’s nine mentions now). But she doesn’t mind. I start to doze off with my head on my bag. When I look up, I can see she looks just as miserable as I am.

4.31pm: I do notice and I do mind.

4.35pm: Without YouTube and Facebook, we are reduced to actual conversation.

4.46pm: This fails miserably. We do, however, discover that Betsy can move her boobs independently of each other. Ooer. Move aside, ninja cat.

Why don’t we wear watches?! No idea what time it is. Absolutely none. We ask a stranger. Stranger looks confused and frowns at us, as if to say: “Where’s your phone, dickhead?” before finally conceding.

5pm: It’s 5pm.

5.30pm: Need to cycle my bike back from Sidgwick, but the lounge dress disagrees entirely. They used to make horses side-saddle. WHY NOT BIKES? Also, this concise thought makes me realise that I think in tweets. My grandparents generation probably weren’t so concerned with constraining thoughts to a maximum of 140 characters. Huh. How sad, I am truly a product of my times.

What can we possibly conclude? We both certainly feel like we got a day’s worth of day. Living in the 60s was probably just dandy, but it is being anachronisms that makes the exercise difficult. If all events only exist on Facebook and your DoS contacts you exclusively by email, then it is near impossible to avoid becoming a socially-hermetic, academic failure. What’s more, we can’t have our half-hourly Tab breaks.  In the words of Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.