Thursday, 27 October 2011

Phone Call

Discovered on a private driveway down to a house near Bath, the last remains of a K6 telephone box. This of course may be the awful fate of all these once ubiquitous red sentinels, their death knell tolled by BT back in the 1980s when they started to replace them with those unspeakable off-the-shelf glass cabinets. Mobile phone use has rendered them pretty well obsolete now, but I do wonder if a new use couldn't be found for them that means they remain in their original locations, instead of being turned into conversation piece greenhouses or shower cabinets. Some are quite rightly listed, some still have their interior lightbulbs shining brightly in the gloom, all of them appear to have discouraging notices about actualling attempting to make a telephone call. Unmitigated England Phone Boxes will of course have a corded handset on top of a black Bakelite phone, A & B chrome buttons, a shelf full of pink or yellow boarded directories, a list of local exchanges and a small mirror on the back wall. On the floor will be one empty Player's packet and a pencilled number awkwardly written on a Fry's Five Boys wrapper. And a man in a trilby tapping on the glass, mouthing 'Hurry up".

20 comments:

Miss Rayne said...

Their use as a drop point for Russian spies handing over top secret documents was rightly acknowledged as 'indispensible'. They should, for that reason alone, have remained in use throughout the country.

Anonymous said...

BT ran a competition to find new uses for these boxes, which range from an art gallery to a defibrillator

Peter Ashley said...

Talking of spies I remember the innovative use of a phone box positioned at the bottom of the Royal Albert Hall steps in the film of The Ipcress File.

And thankyou for the links, Anon. I do recall now that a competition had been launched by BT.

The Vintage Knitter said...

The good folk of Box (how apt!) in Gloucestershire have put their to use as a community library. Such a good idea and somewhere to deposit those dog-eared Jilly Cooper books...

http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Villagers-box-clever-books-kiosk/story-13236201-detail/story.html

Jon Dudley said...

Glance out of the Brighton-London train to your left somewhere close to Redhill and there are many of these boxes awaiting who knows what fate. By the way I believe the location is close to a 1930s driving school which was laid out like a proper miniature town road system where would-be drivers could conduct their Morris 8s without harming anyone else...it had traffic lights, junctions the lot. Great shot of what housed a dying mode of communication what with all these mobiles...

Mrs Mndz said...

Amazing picture!

Ron Combo said...

Bloody hell, being at St Custards and being 'allowed' to make a phone call when someone had died or you had lost a limb and putting the pennies in the slot and asking the operator for Newton Abbot 3428 and pressing button B. And my mother replying "Good evening, Newton Abbot 3428".
Pass me the bottle of gin. Beefeater is fine.

Philip Wilkinson said...

When I first had an iPhone and was unused to the thing's insatiable need for recharging sessions, I was grateful for the odd phone box. Perhaps Apple should sponsor a few of the survivors. They could contain charging stations for iPhones (and indeed G-Whizzes).

But, oh for the time when phone boxes just contained innocent things like Fry's Five Boys wrappers. Pass the gin, Ron, quickly.

Sue said...

Here's someone else who had the library idea...
http://vimeo.com/21754886

If you can bear the thought, send 'em over to Germany. They are very sought-after here and the one in our local supermarket (no, don't ask me why) is a real local curiosity and talking point...

Peter Ashley said...

Sue: Thanks for the link to Vimeo.
I've been looking for more storage space for books, so I'm taking the Black & Decker to our local box tonight. Well, when I'm back from the pub.

Wartime Housewife said...

Will the Unmitigated Phone Boxes still smell of piss?

Bill said...

Not in England, I know, but Shetland has a fine array of K6 boxes still in situ and was the location of the very last Buttons A & B box. It's also the only place where I have seen directories still in phone boxes.

Peter Ashley said...

Thanks Bill, and yes, Wartime Housewife, of course it will.

teninchwheels said...

... and the mouthpiece rich with the smell of stale cigarette breath.

Did I imagine it, or did these 'phone boxes come equipped with a mirror and a map of your location?

The ones round our way always seemed to have the glass at ankle level missing.

teninchwheels said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Philip Wilkinson said...

Ten-inch wheels: They certainly had a mirror.

And another thing - the labels on post boxes used to include the location of the box, so you could get out of the car and find out where you were. Not so now, alas.

Anonymous said...

A month between posts and counting. Is this a record?

Peter Ashley said...

Appalling isn't it? More coming up ASAP.

American Flaneur said...

My local pub actually requires patrons to step inside a red box if they're going to use their mobile phone. Lord help the poor soul who doesn't comply. Prevents one idiot from making the rest of the building listen to some inane conversation.

Wartime Housewife said...

AF: What a brilliant idea. When I am Queen, this will be a law.