Before you say goodbye (Photo of the week)

It’s all you lot who are to blame! Don’t look at me like that.

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You and your mobile phones. You can’t leave them alone can you? People no longer read on the Tube they sit and stare at their phones. When they sit in pubs, wait in shops, even walk down the street – it’s the mobile phone that gets the attention. We are becoming a nation of starers . I even saw someone sitting in church texting last week in the middle of the service

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Well you’ve done it – all the telephone boxes are being removed. I for one am sorry to see them disappear. They acted as beacons of light in a dark world. They stood for stability, security and even safety. I once spent a night in one rather than battle through a blizzard to get home. Even better it enabled me to talk to home while staying dry – although it has to be admitted not warm.

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Box after David Hockney

The present sturdy boxes, familiar icons of society were introduced by the Post Office in 1935 to celebrate the Jubilee of King George V. They were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (better known for his work on Liverpool Cathedral, Waterloo Bridge and Cambridge University Library) and were known as the Jubilee Kiosk. Cast in iron and painted red they were designated K6s replacing thousands of earlier ones – much more flimsy devices.

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In 1989 one far-sighted gentleman – or possibly lady, realized what might happen managed to get over 2000 of them listed status. So they are a proving much more difficult for the authorities to cart them away and dump them. That may account for why so many now stand empty. However in areas where the local population is seizing the opportunity, all sorts of new services have sprung up. In some defibrillators have been inserted, others have been turned into a plant stalls, one has a geology point and I found this one in North Norfolk which had become a local lending library.

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Unlike your modern mobile – if there was no reply from the person you were calling, using these phone boxes – it didn’t cost you money. You just didn’t press button A. Instead you hit button B and got your coins back. That dates me I suspect. Nevertheless if it makes you see red – all the better – just so long as it’s a local kiosk. Have a good weekend.

PS Don’t forget Shrove Tuesday 13th February get to Olney if you can for the greatest pancake race in the world. See my page on Places to go and things to see. Pretty good for photographs.

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