Phone Box Thursday: High Street, Southampton

I did threaten promise to start posting my collection of red phone box photos, so here I go!

Red phone boxes in Southampton
Red phone boxes, High Street, Southampton, 17th March 2015.

I took this photo on our last night living in Southampton; we moved away the next day.  I do also have one of me, slightly tipsy and posing with the right-hand box like a nutter, but nobody needs to see that.  I never go into phone boxes to examine them more closely (they’re usually pretty gross inside nowadays as people only really use them as urinals/bins) but the phones in these ones are at least still intact, even if they probably don’t work anymore.  When Geth and I finally paid a flying visit to Southampton last May for the first time since moving away, we walked down High Street to visit the Platform Tavern (one of our favourite pubs in the city) and the phone boxes were still standing – good to see!

Vintage fair haul: Vintage Clothing Sale at Northumbria SU

I went to my first vintage fair of 2018 today (and definitely not the last – there are another six coming up within the next month alone.  Good thing vintage stuff can be so cheap!)  Today’s fair was a small event held at the Northumbria student union, put on by Headlock Vintage.  I was itching to get going with the vintage shopping this year, especially as I’ve been wanting to get some more interesting patterns into my mostly-solid-black wardrobe (the goth is still strong with this one).

Vintage clothing purchases
My new-to-me purchases from today. The material of the middle garment is making me think I should probably get round to buying an iron at some point.

The three things I ended up buying were light summer garments.  I think this is my not-so-subconscious telling me I’m getting fed up of winter now.  The black and white diamond material and the pink and black material are both capri trousers; the floral material is a dress.  All black backgrounds, I know, but I think I’ve been successful with the ‘interesting patterns’ thing.

When I went up to pay, I also got a voucher for 20% off on the Headlock Vintage website, which was a nice bonus!  I went home and promptly used it to grab myself a nice top.  A blue top, without a hint of black.  I am branching out, sort of.

’80s trenchcoats

I have far too many coats and jackets, because, like most things, I never throw them away.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve not yet thrown away the old winter coat that I wore to death in uni, the one that has a big rip in the front with stuffing coming out of it.  It’s one of those collections that badly needs to be culled when we move into the new place, ’cause I don’t think we’re going to have a lot of hanging space for coats.

This didn’t stop me acquiring five new ones this winter, however.  Three were gifts from my sister-in-law when she was clearing out her Edinburgh clothes stash, so I’m going to raise my hand and say ‘not responsible’ for those, but the other two were Etsy purchases.  Having really got into vintage clothes shopping in the last couple of years, I’m developing a bit of an Etsy addiction.

Black vintage '80s trenchcoat
My black ’80s trenchcoat, the slightly warmer of the two I own. The beige one will be out in full force for the spring.

Thing is, I love ’80s trenchcoats.  They’re much longer than their modern-day equivalents, so you don’t get the awkward hem battle when you’re wearing a skirt, and like most clothing cuts from the ’80s, it’s a much more dramatic silhouette, with nice wide shoulders and a nipped-in waist.  I find that in the depths of winter, when you’re always wearing a coat outdoors, a bit of dramatic dressing is refreshing, especially after the sparkly Christmas stuff has all had to be put away.

It’s probably for the best that there’s only one more month left of winter, ’cause Etsy keeps tempting me with more and more coats in all the colours of the rainbow (and in the ’80s, it was a very brightly coloured rainbow).  If only I had the space!

’80s jumpers

I’ve been a lot colder than usual this winter.  I’m guessing this is because I’ve lost a lot of weight and so I don’t have that cosy layer of fat keeping me warm anymore.  Luckily, my love of vintage clothing fairs came to the rescue, and so in recent months I have become the shamelessly proud owner of a new collection: a collection of vintage ’80s jumpers.

Me in a vintage '80s jumper
This jumper was labelled a ‘Cosby jumper’ by the vintage stall that was selling it. No, that didn’t put me off it, though I did resist the slightly more garish ones that were next to it. I make no promises for next time, however.

In previous winters, I lived in hoodies.  This was the most practical thing at the time, because the various sources of heating in the house, combined with my larger self’s tendency to overheat every time I did any activity that wasn’t sitting down, meant that I was constantly doing the too-hot-too-cold dance and needed something that was easy to throw on and off.  This winter, though, I’ve found it’s most comfortable to wear something warm and cosy all day long, which is where the jumpers come in.  They’re nice and hardwearing, and there’s never any shortage of them at vintage fairs, so I think they’re going to be my winter go-to for a few years to come.

GPO phones

Following on from my classic phone box post, it will probably come as no surprise that I also love classic GPO 746 telephones.

Replica red GPO 746
My replica GPO 746. Modern-day replicas have an additional hash and star on the rotary dial so as to be compatible with telephone banking.

Growing up, we had two original 746s in the house, a black one that came with the place when my parents bought it in 1982 and an ivory one that I think one of them might have brought from a previous flat.  The ivory one died a death sometime in the ’00s, but the black one still sits on the hall table, waiting patiently for me to adopt it eventually.  I think even in the ’90s, we were a bit behind the times  – whenever I had friends from school round and they needed to use the phone, none of them knew how to use the rotary dial.  I’m guessing most people in the UK had switched to push button models by the late ’80s.

I bought a replica 746 (shown above) from GPO Retro a year or two ago.  I love the way it looks, though the feel isn’t 100% right – there’s not quite as much spring tension on the rotary dial as there is on an original model, presumably to aid quicker dialling when dealing with automated answer systems such as telephone banking, and of course it beeps in your ear during dialling as well, unlike the originals.  Still, I’m very happy with it, and when we get round to extending the phone line upstairs in the new house, I’ll probably get one in another colour.

Red phone boxes

In the month of my birth, January 1985, two important things happened in the history of the telephone in the UK.  One was Britain’s first ever mobile phone call, made in the early hours of New Year’s Day 1985.  The other was the announcement that classic red phone boxes would be replaced with a new design.  Looking 33 years backwards from our world of smartphone zombies, YMMV on whether either of these was a good thing.

The classic red phone box is one of my favourite aesthetic icons of 20th century Britain.  I love red phone boxes and take pictures of them wherever I find them, like some kind of excitable tourist.  Sad to say they are gradually becoming rarer and rarer on Britain’s streets, but lots of them are being repurposed for things like defibrillators and cash machines, so I live in hope that they won’t disappear completely.

Red phone box in York
Me with a classic phone box outside York Minster last year. I spotted it while running the Yorkshire 10 Mile race and went back for a photo the next day.

I have lots of phone box pictures and will be sharing them on the blog soon!

Some of my favourite useful links for info about phone boxes: