Make your kids read this!
It’s hard to believe in this age of mobile communications what many 80’s kids had to go through to do something as simple as making a phone call.
Here are the 7 most OMG facts about the great British 80’s phone box!
1. You had to walk to the nearest public phone box if you wanted to call anyone.
That’s walking, without a smartphone to snapchat or txt on as you go, in driving wind, rain, snow or hail and, as this was the 1980’s, in either freezing or boiling temperatures because the good old GB didn’t have anything in-between back then!
So you had no choice but to get dressed and go outside for a walk, whatever the weather, if you wanted to make a phone call!
2. In a call queue, the 80’s way!
Only about 1 in 10 households had their own land-line phones in 1985, so the local public phone box could get busier than a chippy give-away on a Friday night at tea time!
You actually had to wait until the phone was free before you could make your call!
3. The pub phone.
Many UK villages didn’t even have a phone box in the street (many didn’t even have a street!), the villagers there had to walk for miles to use one in a pub, post office or local shop, if they were open.
Sometimes you had to travel to the next village in order to find a payphone.
4. The big red phone box
After your weather-torn trek to the nearest payphone you were faced with a cold, draughty cast iron box that required superhuman strength to open and then took 10 minutes to close! Once inside you had to perform a well practised routine that involved balancing a big heavy Bakelite receiver between your ear and shoulder whilst you piled your 10p coins on the shelf in readiness.
Phone boxes were never like this!
The cold steel dial made very pleasing mechanical noises as it whirred slowly around, but that didn’t offset the growing anxiety as you realised that dialling a number that contained lots of digits over 5 was going to take longer than the actual call you could afford to make because (see 6)
Dialling 999 actually took 999 minutes!
6. Call costs were significantly higher than today
This was a real kick in the teeth from the GPO. After everything you had just been through, actually speaking to someone was going to cost you more than two pints of beer because in 1983 a three minute, peak-rate national call would cost you 76p! That’s the equivalent of 25p/minute to call someone in your own country! Compare that with today’s UK mobile operators who offer millions of ‘free’ minutes to monthly customers every day!
1983: 1 pint of beer = 35p A three minute phone call = 76p
7. The beeping coin ordeal!
This was where you could really feel your heart pumping and your palms start to sweat (although in some inner-city areas you could achieve the same affect just by looking at the adverts in the phone box)
No, the real stress was in waiting for the call to be answered and then hurriedly pushing your first 10p into the phone whilst it beeped manically at you like a heart monitor attached to someone dancing to Frankie Goes to Hollywood; or trying to, because at this point you’d discover that another coin was jammed in the slot (or super glued there by a Vivian!)
Public phone boxes were often the target of vandals and spent long periods ‘out of order’.
If you survived all of the previous traumas then you were able to hold a brief, serious, gritty conversation about a spy, bank robber or hit-man (sorry, too much Sweeny!). But try and tell the young ‘uns of today that, an’ th’won’t believe ye!