Saturday, 26 March 2011


This is the second of my Glasgow Schooldays pictures: old-fashioned light-fittings found in the Scotland Street School Museum.  The title of the picture, you might spot, is a play on words: doubtless the pupils in those days may have been subjected to a different sort of switch. 

Today, as the clocks spring forward, I marvel at how everything can suddenly change at the flick of a switch, or at the perilous press of that button marked *send*

Monday, 14 March 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

On this inauspicious day, perhaps I should consider where it all began. No, not my strange little life; my even stranger obsession with the phone-box.  And what better than to post a picture of the first red phone-box that I would have seen, at the top of our little cul-de-sac in a quaint little village in the Home Counties?  Except that I can’t – and this is the point – because it is no longer there.

Besides, it wasn’t even a proper one; it was some distance from the award-winning Gilbert Scott with square windows and, for ventilation, a perforated crown in the semi-domed top.  The only thing linking our box with the London Classic was the smell of piss: it was one of solid 1970s jobs, with single-glass panels on three sides, vandal-proofed, with a door so heavy that it rendered an emergency-call a trial. 

When BT took over the GPO in the ‘80s, our village got chrome-and-perspex replacements, while the next village down the A1 managed, somehow, to hold on to a little bit of our Great British Aesthetic Heritage and kept their Red Box.  I believe it still stands.  At least, it was there last time I passed through, just a couple of years ago.  But a lot can happen in a couple of years. 

The phone-box is a potent symbol of the past; what the future holds for it, who knows – except the usual death and decay.  But I’m okay with that. The present, however – even on my birthday when it ought to be a welcome gift – it’s the present that scares me the most.