To many, the red telephone box is something rather unique on England’s streets. In a modern England where everyone is well equipped with mobile phones, there really isn’t much need to visit a little cubicle and search the pocket for 30p. However, in its heyday the fast disappearing red telephone box was a real beacon of comfort provided you didn’t have to queue for too long.
In the past, it was a true life-saver for people who had no home telephone, and it also offered not only privacy but also shelter for users. Many old English people I know often say it was a kind of public amenity in which you didn’t mind waiting for the rain to stop. Some people also claim to have had their very first kiss in one, much to the entertainment of curious passers-by of course.
There is no doubt that these red boxes are well recognised and appreciated by all countries and they reflect England’s historic development in both architectural achievements and communications. As far as many are concerned, the famous red phone box does play a vital role in English culture and heritage, and has done so for many past decades.
Fortunately enough, the charming red boxes can be found all over England. They have also appeared in countless films and while they are disappearing fast due to new communication technology, an increasing number of people are still preserving them.
As a foreigner, the red telephone box well represents England in many respects to me. I used to live in England and even though I hardly used the phone boxes at all, I spent so much time admiring and appreciating them from a creative point of view. For me, it all started with a red phone box on the beach in Brighton during my half-term visit. The brilliant contrast of the shiny red colour against the beautiful seaside of the Southern English town made a fantastic photo opportunity.
Now back home in Bangkok I’ve still got loads and loads of red telephone box photos on my computer, in the beautiful snow, among green trees, taken from many different angles, mostly with mates crammed inside. To be fair, it’s such a good reminder of my time spent in England as I still remember precisely where and with whom I was, when each picture was taken.
The red phone box is definitely not only a gorgeous piece of English street furniture, globally recognised, it was and till these days still is a priceless life-saver for many people. I reckon that British Telecom should be praised for maintaining all these gorgeous red boxes. I’m certain everyone still remembers the tragedy of the London bombings back in 2005 when all the mobile phones technically went down but good old red phone box worked perfectly fine and helped put many people’s minds at rest.
Most people would see different wedding traditions, but if there is one that can be traced from the English style, that is of spreading flowers on the pathway towards the altar before the bride walks towards it. Such a practice stems from the belief that the bride will live through her life happily and lovely.
This practice is usually done by a small girl who dons the same design or dress of the bride herself. This is to avoid being singled out by any jealous evil wishers who might envy her life of happiness in the duration of the ceremonies.
Also, brides are also advised to carry a silver horseshoe to the hem of their wedding dresses. In the olden days, brides were even asked to carry actual horseshoes for good luck. The former is what most brides apply now since good luck is what any newlyweds will always be after.
Every nation in this world would certainly want something to be called their core culture. Some countries (especially in Asia) label their cultures as hospitable and welcoming. Others label their cultures as hard working. Still others prefer the label easy going and fun loving. What is the core culture of the Britain of today? If someone were to ask you this question, what would you answer off the top of your head?
I was quite saddened when I read something about this over at Time.com. Here are some excerpts from the feature article:
What are the key components of Britishness? The bulldog spirit? A stiff upper lip? Or a penchant for Sex on the Beach? With Britain locked in an identity crisis (the English feel English, the Welsh, Welsh and some Scots are so eager to assert their Scottishness that they want to disunite the United Kingdom), these questions are troubling Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Oddly, Brown overlooked another fundament of Britishness: alcohol-fueled misbehavior. Booze culture unites Britons from Land’s End in southwestern England to John O’Groats at the northeastern tip of Scotland, and it’s also one of the U.K.’s best-known exports. In sun spots such as Ibiza, Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Spain and Greece, English, Welsh and Scottish holidaymakers raucously intermingle, indistinguishable from each other in their bright leisure wear and brighter sunburns, downing alcoholic concoctions such as Sex on the Beach, sometimes as a prelude to the act itself.
The feature is longer than these two paragraphs and I felt disturbed after I read it. Is this how people of other nations perceive the British people? Do they really think that the British is a nation of boozers?
Photo courtesy of mike harper