Friday 14 July 2023

There Go the Pips

You know that feeling when you see a book and realise immediately you've got to have it? Of course you do. Well, I've just blagged myself a copy of Ben Dakin's There Go the Pips...A Photographic Love Letter to Britain's Phone Boxes. It was published last year and if like me you're interested in social history and/or psychogeography (of course you are) then I honestly can't recommend this fabulous slice of modern Britain highly enough.

Here's an excerpt from Ben's foreword: ''I started taking photos of phone boxes almost by accident. I filled my Instagram feed with random photos of everyday minutia - shop signs, abandoned trolleys, discarded foodstuffs etc. - the backdrop to our everyday lives. Because they were in the right place, phone boxes started to make an appearance. Another factor in their favour is the inherent incongruity of their locations, like a bus stop in the middle of nowhere, their very presence is so at odds with their location and surroundings, they take on a volume which other urban street furniture cannot match. When I passed a location that I had posted previously and noticed the phone box had been removed in such a clinical manner as to leave no scar, I was intrigued. The more I looked for phone boxes the fewer I could find. So I decided to document some of those still standing...''


Anyway, this book has quite nicely dropped August's photo challenge into my lap. Phone boxes. Ones that are still working, preferably. Yes, I know a lot of the red ones (the K6) have been turned into mini libraries, vape shops, cash machines & libraries; some even house defibrillators. But if you see a box where you can still make a call, or at least not one that's not been reappropriated, I'd love to see it. 

And if you can get them to me by the 1st I'd be eternally grateful. Pip pip.


Postscript 31.7.23 

I recently contacted Ben on Twitter and he kindly agreed to answer a couple of quick questions. (Though, thinking about it, I should really have phoned him from one of his boxes.)

* Did you not pay a visit to Hull - home of Kingston Communications and all the legendary white K6s?

* My interest was in the KX range that replaced most of the K9s and K6s, as it was these that BT are removing wholesale. They are unloved, unlike the K6s, which have whole websites and societies devoted to them! Sadly Hull, because of it's interesting telecoms history doesn't have the same KX box issue! 

* I know exactly why you’ve put Longitude/Latitude of the box locations, but why not also the town/area?

* The spread of boxes isn't from as wide a geographical area as I would have liked it to have been. I took photos of boxes where I saw them - I didn't travel the country to get them, so if I'd have put town/area it may have got a little repetitive and exposed areas I didn't go! Sadly I work for a living and so do not have the luxury of travel just to take photos!

* Wots yer next book?! 

* Well, I have just funded a book of closed down pubs (and a few shops) on Kickstarter, and that is on sale on my Etsy page. I have also completed the photos for another volume of phone boxes called, 'Can you call me back...' - and am just waiting on being able to afford to get it printed!


PPS 1.8.23

You can now see the phone boxes that came back from August's Photo Challenge throw out.


  1. Great post and recommendation, John. I have something in mind for the August challenge...

    1. Thanks, K. I shall look forward to seeing it.

  2. Ah, phone boxes - I haven't been in one for years but it opens up a whole can of worms, I mean ancient memories.... some of which are more dodgy than others!
    Lovely idea for the challenge, although I'm struggling to think now where the nearest one to me is...

    1. I'm sure you'll find one tucked away somewhere!