My point of view #10

MY POINT OF VIEW #10 (By Tatiana Sisquella)

Cabina de TelèfonsTo start with, a statistic: on a world-wide basis there are now more mobile phones than people. Putting your mobile phone into your bag or your jacket pocket has become as much an everyday act as cleaning your teeth (correction: there are more people who remember to take their mobile with them than who remember to clean their teeth, but that’s another question).

Having a mobile phone is no longer a privilege in our society. Making a phone-call is no longer an act that is the result of a conscious thought process: we often call first and think later. It is quite clear that our relationship with telephones has radically changed in a very short space of time. And within this maelstrom there is one element in the picture which has silently and discreetly passed from having a leading role to becoming just an extra, walking alone at the back of the set. How does an actor feel when, after years of fame and glory, he is relegated to the most complete anonymity? What can it feel like to be a star who was in the limelight for years but who overnight is suddenly no longer noticed any more by the general public? Well, lift the receiver of a public telephone-box and ask it.

Because it is undoubtedly true that telephone boxes really used to play an important role in the day-to-day life of the inhabitants of our city, as in many other cities, too. Whereas now I’m sure that most Barcelona residents couldn’t even tell you where the nearest one is.

It’s clear that our cabines cannot be compared with London’s distinctive telephone boxes or with the originality of some of the phone boxes you find in different parts of Japan, but nevertheless they’re ours and we love them.

In Barcelona the phone boxes are blue, with metal telephones, transparent sides and an extensive glass surface for leaning your arms against or for leaving your bag or documents on. They are open phone boxes and have an average height that makes them accessible for the vast majority of people. They’re nothing special, let’s not deceive ourselves, but over the years we got used to seeing them all around us, and you get quite affectionate about them and, well, one thing leads to another …what can I say. It’s a bit like when you have a neighbour who is neither particularly attractive nor particularly friendly, but when one day he finally disappears, you really miss him.

Something similar has happened to me with our phone boxes. From one day to the next I suddenly started to get an urgent need to make a call from a phone box, the origin of which I couldn’t quite identify. And for a few minutes my whole body was overtaken by a sensation of emptiness and panic, with the thought that perhaps those phone boxes I remembered from my childhood no longer existed.

There’s no problem, though. Despite what might have happened, the old telephone boxes have not disappeared, and are not going to disappear. And this is no wishful thinking, it’s the reality. Spanish legislation considers this piece of urban street furniture to be a public facility, and therefore obliges the company to have one available for every 1,500 inhabitants.

How happy I felt when I read this regulation! My heart full of joy, I ran downstairs from my home to celebrate my enthusiasm by making a call from a phone box in the street. I looked to the right and to the left, my eyes darting around to try to find an outside facility from which I could make this phone-call which would be a link to the past. And then I saw it. There it was, still, silent and solitary. The phone box.

I was just about to lift the receiver and dial some numbers at random for the pure pleasure of making a call from this instrument of a bygone age, when my mobile rang. Both distracted and attracted by the person calling me, I moved further and further away from the phone box, leaving behind that fleeting moment of longing and nostalgia. Those old phone boxes look really good in the streets, though.


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