This beautiful phone box reminded me of something that Edward Hopper might have painted, had he ever passed through England at some point. This photo was taken two weeks ago in a small hidden village two miles from the town of Stroud.

It also reminds me of the original Hopper painting hanging on the wall of the late Pedro Garcia Marquez in The Santa Monica Suicide Club. You won’t be able to read about that yet, but you can enter the world where mobile phone were the size of large bricks and phone boxes represented to many people the only way of communicating with others inside Taking Leave. It’s how Tim Lomax manages to reunite with Loveday after a near miss with a tube train. It’s how Tim keeps calling record company bosses when he’s travelling in his flash car. The time when Loveday had to call the AA from Dorset when her Hillman Imp had died.

Hopper painting

Unlike now, this was a time when if you were seen walking down the street talking to yourself you were thought to be either soft in the head, potty or mad. A time in which people used to stand outside and queue to use phone boxes. A time when you needed a handful of coins to make a long distance call. A time when daring lovers could take shelter, steal kisses and make love. In movies and telly dramas, phone boxes were places where desperate people being chased by gangs or crazed psychopaths would run to, only to find they were out of order and their assailants panting outside.

It’s easy to think of the bad things with old phone boxes – out of order, no light, smelling of acrid human piss or worse…..black handset smashed, phone book ripped up. Yet I prefer to think of them as places where great things happened. Romance, great sex, placing the winning bet at the bookmaker, hearing your best friend on the other end of the line…….finding one that was warm, lit, functioning and could be yours’ and your perfumed companion in the middle of a dark and stormy night…

I doubt anyone knows any frightening or heart warming scenes involving red phone boxes? But if you do…please submt to the jury. Unless they are wild and dazzling, ones about Superman and Dr Who do not really count.


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