A while back I saw a phonebox, just a few doors down from my home, that I had not noticed before. From then on I started to notice more of them. Not that they had suddenly appeared from nowhere, no, I just had not 'seen' them.
These were not the classic red London ones designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (although I have made some exceptions), no I am talking about the more ‘modern’ ones. These have become part of the street furniture; ignored, looked through, abandoned. No-one seems to use them anymore (certainly not through choice or necessarily for their original purpose). In the modern age the almost ubiquitous proliferation of mobile phones has rendered them obsolete and relics of the past. But still they remain, unloved, mistreated, empty, lonely and I’ve found an almost melancholy beauty in their ugliness.
These decaying fixtures of the streets are probably not going to be around forever, British Telecom and New World Telephones are gradually replacing them with electronic posters with a phone attached. However due to a High Court judgement in 2018 it is not a decision they can make now without local authority permission.
As such many remain in stasis, gradually deteriorating, occupying a little pocket of land on which they slowly atrophy. They remind us of a time before modern technology, a time of reversing the charges for calling home to ask for a lift. Prank calls. Sheltering from the rain. Turning into a superhero. They hold memories. As the uncaring march of technology relentlessly moves on they recede from our consciousness and the physical realm. Some of the phone boxes I have taken photos of have already been removed and many more will have their reign bought to an end soon. We probably won’t miss them, or even notice they have gone. But they are here, sure they have seen better days, but for me there is a quiet, determined, fading connection to a different epoch.