Ex-Directory
Reader's Digest UK|December 2020
Olly Mann's local telephone box finds a new purpose, one which provides plenty of amusement…
Olly Mann

When was the last time you used a telephone box? I mean to make an actual phone call; not to shelter from the rain, or browse the kinky postcards. AGES ago, right? I ventured into a phone box once last year—but that was to get some privacy while I answered my mobile, so that doesn’t really count, does it? Oh, and in 2012 some tourists asked me to photograph them mounting a red telephone box in tribute to a One Direction album cover. I’m not sure that counts, either.

No, the last time I used a phone box for its authentic, intended purpose was… 2006. Fourteen years ago! I was producing an Edinburgh Fringe stage-play, and conducting auditions in my grotty London house-share. In the vain hope that I might impress some talented actors to come and work for me for nothing, I set about chucking some throws over the sofas, and lighting pumpkin-scented candles to make it seem a bit more young professional.

As I staggered outdoors to empty the dust bins, the door slammed behind me. Suddenly I was locked outside in my pyjamas, with one hour to go until the casting call. Not a great look. My mobile was inside— along with my clothes—but luckily there was a telephone box across the street. So, I dialled Directory Enquiries, got put through to our landlord’s managing agent, and had a spare key couriered to me with just enough time to scarper back in and get dressed before the actors arrived.

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