Thursday, September 26, 2013

The disappearing outdoor phone

When we were young, the only way to make a phone call was to go to the nearest telephone box. At that time, there was very little vandalism in the rural towns where we lived and so you could almost guarantee that the phone would work. In fact, the phone directory would usually be there as well but might have the odd page torn out. In popular places, you might even have to queue up and wait to make a call whist some love stuck Romeo sweet talked his girlfriend. In Britain, the red phone box was a familiar and welcome sight.

When we were in our late teens, Pamela’s father was a high ranking fireman and my father a police sergeant so we did have phones in the house (not the norm in those days) but we could only use them for emergency private calls because they had been supplied to maintain contact with work. The fire service would not have been pleased, nor the police service, if they could not get through because Pam and I were chatting to our friends on the phone.

These days though, things are very different; a lot more houses have fixed phones and most people have a mobile phone (or two). Very few now have to rely on the phone box in the street to make a call.

In 2005, a royal decree in Spain regulated the number of phone booths that a town should have. In the case of Torrevieja, with a population of 103,000, that is set at 35. In fact there were 96 which has now been reduced to 87 because Telefónica  has removed nine of the booths in outlying areas due to their lack of use. 

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