Home > Bookish Things > In the News – Bill Bryson regrets demise of Britain’s red phone boxes

In the News – Bill Bryson regrets demise of Britain’s red phone boxes

Friday, 15 October 2004 Leave a comment Go to comments

LONDON (AFP) – Bill Bryson, the American author who enjoys a cult following in Britain, lamented the demise of the red telephone box in his adopted homeland and its replacement by “shower stalls”. “I think one of the saddest things that has happened in Britain, in the time that I’ve been here, is the loss of probably the most important piece of street furniture — and that’s the red phone box,” he said.

“I was amazed and distraught when that happened at how complacent Britain was,” he said at the launch of an English Heritage campaign to buff up the nation’s towns and villages.

“It was a great tragedy that they were replaced by these shower stalls that have just become advertising blocks. They are even worse than they were when they were first put up.”

Bryson, 53, who first came to Britain in 1973, stayed for 22 years, then returned to settle for good in 2003 after eight years back in the United States, endeared himself to the nation with “Notes from a Small Island”.

His most recent book, “A Short History of Nearly Everything”, a characteristically light-hearted look at the world of science, was also a best-seller.

English Heritage says that visual chaos — from hotchpotch paving and obtrusive traffic signs — blights historic villages, towns and cities and affects the quality of people’s lives.

I mostly posted this because I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Bill Bryson’s books and it was interesting to see something in the news about his comments about phone boxes. Not being used to seeing red phone boxes everywhere I really had not noticed that they were disappearing.

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