Spoke 207 – Last Number Redial

I got chatting to an old boy on a bench next to the Serpentine. He had been in the Navy: submarines, mostly. By way of conversation, I said I’d just been reading that a quarter of the army could be robots in ten years time. He told me that the regular army had been robots since 1906. He said that when contractors went into Knightsbridge Barracks a few years ago, they were amazed to find that none of the services had ever been used.

We chatted about this and that until a school party came past. I mentioned that it had been sad to see schools closed and Ofsted had found many children had fallen behind during the pandemic. He said that in America seventy million people could no longer use a knife and fork: and they’d just voted Trump a second term.

I wondered if I was supposed to laugh at this point but, not quite being able to read his mind, I demurred. I told him I thought the world had turned a corner, not just with Biden, but with a vaccine imminent.

He said that the last two weeks had been the most depressing he could remember in his lifetime. He felt just pure rage all the time and was kept awake by thoughts of putting a bullet in Trump’s head.

Telephone boxes, Bayswater Road
Bayswater Road

We sat silently for a while until I told him that I had photographed a row of telephone boxes on the corner of the Bayswater and Edgware Roads. He looked serious and said if they ever all go off at once, I need to get underground and stay there.

It was dark when I got home. If exhaustion and an empty head are indicators of a great spoke, this one was right up there.


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  1. Great stuff! Why is it that conversations with random people often illicit the deepest statements. It’s like that guy had been waiting for someone to sit next to him so he could just pop out some mind blowing sentences. I’m definitely remembering the phone boxes – put me in mind of the film Miracle Mile which starts like a love story and turns into nightmare because of a public phone box ringing.

    1. Thanks Paul, I’ll check out the film. I think the older phone boxes get, the more sinister they become, especially those that try to lull you into a false sense of security with flowers or tourist info:)

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