Notes for Writers of Historical 1960s British Fiction

finding-a-signal

Notes for Writers of Historical 1960s British Fiction

1.1 Telephonic communication

In the sixties to locate a person you phoned their home; if they were out you rang later. (Location privacy presents obvious plot opportunities for writers of crime and romantic fiction.)

Red phone boxes (found on most street corners) contained a book listing the names, addresses and phone numbers of absolutely everyone. (Huge potential here.)

Whilst sheltering from the perpetual rain, sixties teenagers enjoyed making prank calls from phone boxes. The false-alarm, reversed-charge call to fraught parents was popular.

All spies and boy scouts were taught to make unlimited free calls from phone boxes, using a crocodile clip and the reverse-dialling method.

Miranda Lewis 2019

It’s Friday already so I’m a bit late phoning in my copy to the Friday fiction party.

All hail to Rochelle who keeps us going through all weathers. And thanks to Susan Eames for the photo.

By the way, all of the above is true and my Dad (a boy scout, not as far as I know a spy) did explain the secret of how to reverse dial with a crocodile clip. (It exploited the fact that emergency calls were free from phone boxes.) However, he was such an upright honest person he only explained once dial phones were obsolete.

PS Did anyone else have a telephone table/bench in their house? Ours was under the open-plan 1960s staircase, with a place to sit, a shelf for the phone and space for phone books.