London Calling

I recently extolled the joys my local library gave me when I was little. Now I want to joyfully extoll a little library.

A London man, Sebastian Handley, bought a disused red telephone box from British Telecom for the princely sum of one pound and transformed it into a lending library in his South East London neighborhood of Lewisham. Operating only a few months (and still vandalism-free), it is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Borrow a book, replace it with a different book; there’s no librarian, lending fees or return date. How’s that for thinking outside the box?

The creator, Sebastian Handley, entering the library

Read on, good people of Lewisham!–Mr Sebastian Handley

Designed in the 1920s by Sir Gilbert Scott, who also designed the Tate Modern, the red telephone box used to be spotted, pre-smartphone era, on the corner of every mews, high street and council estate, a little beacon next to every village green, standing sentinel in front of every country pub. A national treasure of the stature of post boxes, double decker buses, fifty pence pieces, Morris dancing and drunken sunburn, the red phone box is a Grade II listed “building” and one of Britain’s most iconic symbols. Anglophiles from Boston to Belgrade expect to check off the sighting from their itineraries when visiting the United Kingdom.

Enough said. I have been inspired to do my bit for the twin causes of maintaining libraries and red phone boxes. Keep calm and read on.

As I announced in my last post, my novel has had a makeover. So the question arose: What’s to become of the original novel?

Well, in the spirit of preserving landmarks, Fuchsia Silk as she has now become known is, yes, you’ve guessed it, off to London. Lewisham, to be precise. A personal treasure will sit inside a national treasure.

Fasten your seatbelt, Miss

Fasten your seatbelt, please

I tucked her into her a small shiny red box and booked her on the red eye. Mr Handley has described his phone box library as spectacular at night, lit up, “like a miniature lighthouse” so I don’t think Fuchsia Silk should have any trouble finding it.

micro libraryJust in case there is someone waiting for her on the other side, she’ll be wearing a red bow so you’ll recognize her. She makes quite an elegant traveller. Treat her nice. Don’t leave her on the shelf like an old maid. Bring her home, introduce her to your friends, take her out and about the cafes and bars of London and I guarantee she’ll show you a good time.

At least that’s what they’ve been saying over on Amazon

Later that same day…

*UPDATE JUST IN!*  The eagle has landed!

The ever-welcoming Londoner, Kate at Maison Bentley Style has found the precious red box on the other side. I can rest easy…Phew!

41 comments

  1. Pingback: Jackie? Are you there??! x | Maison Bentley Style

  2. Yaaaaaaaaaay! We did it!!!!!!!!! xxxxxx

  3. Think I might treat myself :0)

  4. Wow, what a great guy Sebastian is. I love this phone booth library idea 🙂 I would surely use it if I had one in my neighbourhood. Kate is so lucky she got there in time to get your book 🙂 And you are so kind to send one to the library. xoxo Fanni

    • He is pretty admirable. And I love that the locals are treating it so far with respect and appreciation. Hopefully the idea will spread as the phone boxes have been used for art installations in the past. Maybe you’ll see one pop up near you soon. Hope so! xo

  5. What a great idea and I’m glad the system is not being abused! I’ve placed my book in the libraries of various places I’ve lived free of charge. Sometimes these books just need a place to call home. 😉

  6. Safe travels Fuchsia Silk! May you make a lot of (happy) friends on your way! 🙂

  7. Oh, I had the page open for a long time before reading/commenting… should have refreshed… now I KNOW Fuchsia Silk will get the wonderful treatment she deserves! xxx

  8. OMG –Jackie/Kate — WHAT FUN! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! XO

  9. Hurrah! Group projects are the best! Hurrah! %-D xo

  10. What a wonderful man Mr Sebastian Handley is, and how fabulous to see the internet being made real by you and Kate! Jx

  11. Ha. Awesome! Love that idea, and glad your book will be represented there 🙂

    • It’s a cool venture, isn’t it. I love people who think like this. Hope the phone box library is a longterm success! I’m happy that Silk adorned his shelves and now adorns Kate’s 🙂

  12. Ok so this is such a great post and double-the-fun when you can virtually leap across the pond for the interactive hunt and ending…
    the introduction to Mr Sebastian Handley’s tiniest library felt like beginning Alice’s adventure, and falling down a virtual rabbit hole…
    and the search for Fuchsia Silk was like a journey through cyber Wonderland…
    but thank heavens that Kate and her crew got to Miss Silk before the Queen of Hearts!!
    What a wonderful story about a wonderful novel—I think Kat would be impressed by it all~ xo

    • It’s nice when we all get together 🙂 Great minds think alike. Any time you mention Silk and Alice in the same sentence brings a smile. You’re right, Kat would be chuffed with the whole thing.
      Kat, meet Kate…you two will really hit it off 😀
      I’m happy you’re in on our little afternoon, transatlantic escapade XO!

  13. I lent your book to a girlfriend . When she brings it back, maybe I will place it in the little neighborhood library. Same principle: leave a book, take a book. It doesn’t look anything like a British phone booth but it’s wood and rustic and Fuchsia should be happy there.

  14. winstonmoreton

    Oh dear I missed the oppo to add a male voice to the jacket discussion but it is so true jackets need seasonal change as Kat found out. Loved the book and will recommend to my daughter who is a dirigente in Via Richard. Kiwis and Irish seem to flourish in that town.

    • No worries, WInston, hope you like the new look. Thank you for reading my labour of love.
      Dirigente, eh? Clever girl. I may have crashed into her at one time or another, who knows. And how funny that would be! The fashion circus ring is small. I’d love to hear what she thinks of Kat’s impressions…
      Kiwis and Irish are stylish nations it must be said…in reaction to the rugby..? Just a theory 🙂

  15. kathrynmcerlean@gmail.com

    first of all I throught you were jokeing but it is real and I still cant believe it what a great way to to use our red telephone boxes rock on long may it last

    Sent from Windows Mail

  16. Hey, how about my Kangaroo Pouch Mobile Library?

  17. Sebastian Handley had a fabulous idea and we’re so thrilled to hear that it is such a success … now we’ll have to get our hands on a Fuchsia Silk traveler … maybe she even helps us make our way back to London.

    XOXO N & N

    • He’s a very community-spirited and generous individual, isn’t he?
      Hope Silk makes its way into your hands and refreshes your memories of London and then takes you two stylish ladies on a trip to Milan to stock up on the latest designer collections. You’ll fit right in XO

  18. This is a brilliant idea if good reads are constantly being replaced/introduced into the inventory. How nice that your book was tracked!

  19. I love it! I love the library and hurrah Maison Bentley for getting there and snapping up this find. Great to see it go into the hands of such a blogger.

  20. Brilliant, I hope it stays vandalised free!

  21. Such a great idea by Sebastian. I am inspired by both of you! XO

  22. Thank you! The feeling is mutual 🙂

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