Hanging on(to) the Telephone…..

It’s become a cliché of nostalgia.  They used to be everywhere; on city corners in lay-bys and car parks.  In remote countryside they were marked on maps.  Visitors from other countries want to see them, along with soldiers wearing bearskins and double decker buses.  In reality now they are as anachronistic as the police box used by Dr Who as his Tardis.

As a child I was trained in the use of those old fashioned ‘press button A’ telephones hidden inside the red boxes; later as a teenager I was drilled to always have a 10p coin in my purse in case I needed to phone ‘for help’.  I’m not sure a child would even think of using a public telephone today – if they don’t have their own phone they’d ask to borrow someone else’s.

So as I was walking along the Shore Road between Coulport and Cove I was sufficiently intrigued by the survival of this lone outpost that I stopped to look inside.  Was it still a phone box, or just an empty shell?

It contains a working phone.  If I’d had any money with me I’d have used it, purely for the memory of hours I spent in similar places as a teenager, leaning against the side, eyes down, specifically to avoid seeing the people queuing outside.

This phone must have been adopted by the local community for it still to survive.  And there is something very pleasing in that thought.  In an area where mobile reception is patchy at best, where a modest signal can disappear from one minute to the next, or from one spot to six inches to the right or left, that’s precisely where you need access to this old fashioned technology.

I like that it’s still red, albeit a little weathered and faded.  If such things were built now they’d probably be shaded to blend into the background, maybe a muted green or blue, and a little bit apologetic.  This one is still red and proud.

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