red phone boxes

From 'this week in sound':

'Sophie Elmhirst surveys the British telephonic landscape: "At their peak, in the mid-1990s, the British population of phone boxes was about 100,000. Now, there are just over 20,000 working boxes left. ... Those that remain occupy a particular place in Britain’s idea of itself." (Apparently some five million phone calls are still made annually on these old analog devices.)'


I often see classic red phone boxes especially in little British villages. Usually they're used as mini book swaps. Somewhere between a library and a free book shop. Sun damaged, damp, peeling edges.

There's one on a country path nearby that is a small art gallery. The phone box itself is an art object: installation, forgotten design, anachronism. A homemade sign says do not enter, bastardizing the purpose of a phone box.

I noticed the empty space where the phone box used to be in my childhood village. The ghost of the phone box is next to a bench on the grass, opposite a famous thatched cottage and near a small road junction. This was a couple of weeks ago when I visited. Memories: We used it to ask our parents if we could stay out longer. We made prank calls. We listened to the dialing tone. My friend talked to a girl on the phone 20 miles away.

Modern phone boxes now remind me of futurama suicide booths. They have big screen adverts, free WiFi and charging. I don't notice the analog phones.