telephone box libraries


sometimes i think we’ve seen too much evil for this world. with every passing week the news at seems to get more intense,yet in the midst of all that badness they’ll occasionally throw up a token piece of good news just to add a little bit of sugar to the horror. i was tickled when they featured a clip of a sweet guy washing the windows of his local red telephone box…he was totally out there with the fairy liquid,brushing the floor,then building neat shelves into the booth.who cares what low or high brow books fill those telephone boxes, just only that no pigs vandalise them….the fun chappy said he often wondered what the hell he was doing,knowing full well that any moron could easily turn it all upside down…or equally annoying that the actual government might in time deem these ideas a health/safety hazard…so this dear soul on the news at ten was laying himself wide open for a crushing … and wouldn’t y’know it…


how very very uncool…those ruined books in the mud are like tears from the very telephone box itself, while it cries out in naked embarrassment. the rapists who destroy these boxes won’t even give it a second thought unless they’re rumbled…i looked on the dolly-net and learned how there’d been a few cases of arson on the phone box libraries. it’d be great if one day these killjoys realised the most rebellious expression during these extremely corporate times is to do something beautiful,and to do it for free.a true rebel would leave a little cheap mobile in the booth,and hope for it to remain there incase a phoneless soul needs to make an emergency call.y’know one of the neat things about those telephone box libraries is there’s often comics for youngsters where the parents don’t have any extra hard cash for their kids.

01-telephone-box-rushmoor-parkthose darling red telephone boxes play into my sense of nostalgia in the same way as a dansette record player..they’re colourful…electrical,and home to ziggy stardust…in my life i’ve watched those living works of art travel through time on their own bumpy journey…in the early 1960’s they were beacons of communication,then in the 70’s on my first trips to london i got my first insight into the world of prostitution from the sexy little cards mysteriously placed inside the booth … apparently steve strange in the throws of heroin addiction used to pin those cards into the telephone boxes around central london to finance his fix…then in the late eighties as the human race got even murkier ,they began smelling of pish,and now in the age of mobile phones they’ve been left adrift like washed up film stars……so when i saw a resourceful chappy on news at ten turning his local one into a mini library,it gave me a warm glow all over.


i made life changing calls from those lovely red boxes…as a teenager in northern ireland i’d sashay out of the caravan i lived alone in to make calls across the irish sea to kick start my life…the last time i used one was in the early nineties,and noticed how sensitive i’d become to urban dirt when having to talk into the rancid receiver,and then only recently i had the brainwave of maybe acquiring one for our back garden , but was shocked at the price they were going for…the round pillar red letterboxes are now fetching eight thousand pounds,while the telephone booths are being exported to hollywood to sit aside swimming pools as funky outdoor shower units! so y’know it’s great that local people can buy their own red telephone box off the government for exactly one english pound to share their joy of books…it’s all too beautiful..libraries in telephones boxes…flippin one saw that one coming…i love it.

and i send all my loving to you………sweary mary on your telephone line.



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31 Responses to telephone box libraries

  1. Julie Rex says:

    What a heart break :( I knew this story was going to end bad..I always wonder how can it be that a vile act can bring such joy to one person when it crushes another..poor man….I do know of a little red girl, who is safe…tree branches gently brush her beautiful being ~ As ever Julie..all alone no telephone xXx

    • well hopefully the story hasn’t ended julie…hopefully it’s just a bunch of unfortunate incidents…but yes..there are some very ill spirited idiots out there. i love these telephone box libraries…i hope they become a thing here in england…the whole idea is so very very english. loads of love to you *in your armour plated chair*. xxx’

  2. Tony Lawson says:

    Thanks Mary. May your eyes be always open and your humanity flowing.

  3. Tim Ballard says:

    Nice to see and hear you. You’re looking well albeit due a visit to the hairdressers. Wearing your winter coat no doubt. Will check out the book. Sounds fascinating,

  4. Tim Ballard says:

    BTW heard that Frankie Knuckles had died. I remember that song you did which mentioned him. ‘Frankie Knuckles in the summer time’ What was it called?

    • that’s sad…he did bring joy to the world…i heard him spin records in new york at the sound factory in 1995 … gimmie good news baby ….(‘naomi on the catwalk’ was the song you mentioned)

  5. Tim Ballard says:

    ah yes..thanks, and sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings!

    • i love it that you love music enough to know of these things quickly tim…it’s the oddest thing about the internet…news of people passing comes so darn quickly….when michael jackson passed,it hit twitter a whole day before the new york times got to write about it..

  6. Tim Ballard says:

    Came up on Google as I logged on and immediately reminded me of you. He was 59 and had complications with a diabetes condition…Life is so fleeting

  7. Tim Ballard says:

    Enjoy!..hope Billy had his bath. Take care friend. Love as ever xx

  8. marianne says:

    some folks are like a dog running through the mud for fun… not so appealing then, til we clean em up… very nice post and love those red boxes especially filled with books… we’ll keep trying as life is beautiful nevertheless! ; )

  9. Your post bought back a lot of memories. Now if those old red phone boxes could talk…..

  10. What fools.Rebels, don’t make me laugh. Look through history, those who’ve made a habit of burning books were always pretty much the opposite of rebellious.

  11. Richard malpas says:

    A good day to you sir…..My goodness, like scenes from Fahrenheit 451…it’s so sad that cack like this can ruin a little bit of beauty denying others of a bit of cheer, just for the hell of it…..idiots, like you say…we will never be rid of them….that’s what is sad….

    • i just don’t understand it ritchie…some folk will say it’s born out of boredom…maybe they’re right….maybe the government could finally respect the worth of putting cash aside for local youth clubs.

  12. Richard malpas says:

    We all attended Youth clubs back then. A cheap option for a game of snooker and of course socialising. I agree there are not enough resources for the youth of today, but we were easily pleased, will they ? Slightly digressing,the pictures above remind me of a story I read in The Sunday Post many years ago,It The story read how the local kids were bored, they vandalised many things including red-boxes…One lad in particular made a habit of it and it resulted in all the local phones being inoperative. One evening after a ‘spree’ he went home to discover the Police at his home. The short of it was his brother became violently ill one evening and his mother ran around frantic trying to find a phone-box that was working…he nearly died…..the vandal stopped doing it from that day…He learned a lesson, big one….However, the youth of today don’t seem to have any self esteem. No thoughts for themselves and no thoughts for anyone else…..I find that sad……enjoy your Sunday….

    • that’s a powerful anecdote richard….yes…self esteem… it’s a thing…..when i was eleven i went to my one an only youth club on an air force camp in singapore,and even that got shut down,but i loved it…we just hung out and played records in this shed…i think there’s a case for bringing back the youth club….something the kids could claim for their own.

  13. John Howard says:

    I loved our youth club in the mid ’60s, my mum worked there some evenings, and the juke box had all the fabulous Stax records which we played and shimmied with our coffees to together. There was also a lovely cafe called The Chez in Bury (meant to be pronounced The Shay but we all called it The Chezzz) where we’d go after school and play all the Stevie Wonder records it had. Milky coffees always make me sing “For once in my life” just like Stevie did (or a fairly poor impression of how he did it). Kids were vandalising phone boxes when I was at school, and ours smelt of piss even then. Maybe Bury bladders were weaker. Lots of love, abrazos y besos, Mary. You are an erudite gem in a sea of ignorance. xx

    • there’s something so comforting when someone like you john had the same time…right down to the after school cafe…we used to drink lucosade with plates of chips that we’d drown in vinegar … you’re right i suppose… the telephone boxes always smelt of pish,but it did get worse as the decades rolled on..they went from being a bit pissy to becoming down right rancid,but there was maybe a time when they were cleaner….a time when things had a scrubbed integrity about them…gaawd..anyone would think i don’t like the modern world,but i do like a lot of it…. i trust both you and neil are bubbling along fine in spain. y’know last night after the cinema, i walked past the building that RCA records was housed in the 1970’s…i only know it cause the address was on sweet,nilsson,and bowie singles…i feel all spooky as i walk by it on curzon street….so much money in that part of much so,it somehow hasn’t changed through the years….rolls royces parked everywhere urban decay…cops everywhere watching over the residences little flowerpots outside their central london front doors.

      • John Howard says:

        Yes, I wonder, Mary, as we ‘ordinary folk’ go through life looking back, feeling different to how we did at 20, viewing the world with more, or less, scepticism, feeling more, or less, secure, happier or not within ourselves; whether those whose lives have always been full of money, status, chauffeurs, best tables at the best eateries, always first class travel, endless balconies overlooking beautiful beaches from enormous suites – whether they feel any different to how they did at 20. Of course they feel older, but happier? Wiser? Less bothered about how they look? Memories of days when things were grander, more brightly coloured? More laughing smiling faces around them? I wonder. And then I stop wondering and make a cup of te verde, sip it as I sit with the dogs on my varandah looking out at the blue Murcian sky. Not rich, no first class travel in the offing, tables in street cafes being my option and choice, our tiny Hyundai car taking us to the the supermarket. And I think, hmmm, then or now? And I know the answer.

      • oh yes john … certainly there’s other currencies besides money. the one i’m big on right now is the ability to perceive life in the most poetic way possible…sometimes it all gets me right down,so i try and tap into that one. everything is interesting…in it’s own way….hahaha

      • John Howard says:

        Like the starry heavens, and a snow-covered winter’s day…xxx

      • the very one…how i love that in turns makes me think of ‘raindrops keep falling on my head’.

  14. John Howard says:

    I was playing my iTunes playlist of all my Music To Watch Girls By CDs on the iPod last weekend for our friend Susie from Oxfordshire who was here to stay for a few days. Such gorgeous tunes. I still get chills of Odeon Cinema nostalgia when Theme From A Summer Place by Percy Faith comes on the iPod. And Tony Bennett singing The Best is Yet To Come, such heaven.

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