There’s been such a warm and enthusiastic reception for our red phone box project, that Feral Productions and me sprang into action to find it a proper name! Our project is ‘Last Call’. Or #LastCall.
#LastCall seems to us to capture the fragile state of so many of our red phone boxes just now, when their first purpose is eroded and so many of them have been abandoned to the weather. But it also suggests that sense of voices on the line, indeed of that very last voice caught in the wires, even as the telephone itself is stripped from the box. We’ve been so struck by the interest and affection for Britain’s red phone boxes. Thank you everyone who’s been in touch already to tell us stories – about a phone box saved by a resident’s (actual) sit-in, and the photo of another one with placard-bearing demonstrators ranged protectively in front of it. Yes, in deeply rural Herefordshire.
Just before lockdown, I spent a day hunting red phone boxes in north Herefordshire. When I tracked them down, I parked the car, took camera and notebook, heaved open their weighty doors and spent some cold minutes writing inside each one.
I found only one with a working dialling tone, in Pembridge. It looked loved. I wrote:
You tune to the comfort of the dialling tone,
that burrs in the ear like the accents of home.
Others were sadly decrepit, particularly this one at Mortimer’s Cross. This phone box lives where one of the fiercest battles of the Wars of the Roses took place in 1461.
However, not all #LastCall phone boxes are in trouble. In Bodenham, at England’s Gate, is this beautifully cared for box. I liked its red clock. And wrote:
now I have no wires but shelves
I have no speech but words
In Weobley, the phone box was hiding up a ginnel that was turning into a muddy footpath towards fields. But the box looked very tidy, and when I got up to it, I saw it had been fitted with a defibrillator. My photo looks towards the field, but this #LastCall box has a great view back into the village square.
Suddenly impressed by the defibrillator, I thought of love, and village life, and wrote:
Here you can find your heart restarted,
even if you thought it was too late.
And there were more! But now I’m looking at the lists of tempting #LastCall boxes that Estelle from Feral Productions is tracking down south of Hereford. She really did find a dog in one of them. We are making a shortlist. And I’m setting to work over some poem drafts.
Please do look out for #LastCall on social media – and we hope you’ll tell us more stories of your own #LastCall phone boxes!