Station to Station

Austerity and mundanity

Photo of a closed compartment set into a wall in the Tube in London. The labels on it read "Auto phone" and, separately, "Station to station telephone"

My friend Susan Blue, an American living in London, sent me this photo from a tube station she frequents. You have to love the austerity and mundanity of this enclosure, and, in the age of the cell phone, the archaic concept of hardwired communication lines reserved to connect specific locations — of course, it’s quite likely these now serve as valued, if unintentional, redundancies in the case of mobile-phone failure. Or they’re just nice spots for transportation workers to store their Tesco sandwiches. “Such is the stuff from where dreams are woven,” David Bowie sang in “Station to Station” (a 1976 song that may be about as old as this compartment). So true.

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