It’s 100-years since the first public telephone kiosk was introduced in the UK.
If any of the original booths had one of those sheets on the wall stating when they were last cleaned, they’d probably say “1922”.
In my Balham block of flats, we had the use of two public phone booths; I have nothing but bad memories of them.
The phones were just outside the dairy which operated within our flats. I remember once, summoning up the courage to ring a girl, walking up and down for nearly an hour besides the two phones, going, via the dairy and unnecessarily buying a pint of milk, carton of yoghurt and three rashers of bacon, only to be told she thought my friend Trevor was funnier.
There were also phone booths in Balham High Road.
I would often go in them hoping to find some odd coins previous callers had forgotten to collect; I’d also look up my number in the L-R directory (and to find Trevor’s number to get some better gags) and, as a teenager, wondering why so many women had left their business cards – most of them promoting French lessons – futile for me as I was learning Latin. Plus, they all seemed to be called Delores – which was quite exotic for 1970s SW17.
Once, when looking for coins, the phone actually rang. I answered and was asked if I worked for MI5, I replied that I didn’t and wasn’t a fan of pre-pack furniture.
And, as Trevor’s girlfriend said, don’t ring us…