• Kester Eddy

What Colour is the Phone Box and What Did That Signify?

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

KesterTester 19 - A Blast from the Telecom Past - Updated

As it's the run up to Christmas, it's an easy one this week, at least for oldies. This must have been one of the last of its kind in Budapest - the old-style phone apparatus enclosed by a plastic box. Matáv - remember them? - had been replacing this kind of box from memory beginning in 1990, with those blue, anti-theft steel designs. (These were of South African design - and still in place today, 30 years on! Congrats to S African telco engineers!)

(By box here, I mean the apparatus inside the booth, housing the electronic gubbins, not the booth itself. )

This piccie was taken in the summer of 1993, if I recall correctly. (I've been looking for the contact sheets of those years to check for sure - but, sorry can't find them.) I reckon this apparatus had a couple of months, perhaps only weeks, left in service.

But why was the colour important? If you can identify the suspicious looking chappie in the box, you get an extra pint to buy me. And if you can identify the location, I'll buy the next round :)

I'll post the winners of KT18 - the Bronze Bust - here tomorrow.

UPDATE - The Results of KesterTester 18 - Red Ball, Brown Dog, Grey Day, Bronze Bust This Tester produced an interesting array of results. Regular competitor John Cantwell, obviously in the right art-sphere, thought it was Franz Liszt, but then wrote: "although according to Wikipedia, he IS Hungarian. Born near Sopron. I was thrown because he is normally portrayed with long hair, not with a powdered wig." He then admitted cheating by googling "Liszt mellszobot” but said this "pulled up nothing resembling that white stone wall. Or the dog." Sanyi Németh said I'd given too many clues, then admitted to cheating, but never actually gave the answer, writing: "Of course, now that I've had those clues, I turned to Google and I found the bust. (You see, you must never tell a Hungarian not to cheat when you give them all available means for cheating.)" Sanyi, if you're going to cheat, you should at least give the answer in your response! (He was obviously feeling high, overcome by his honesty.) David McCall got the VIP "from the third clue", but admitted googling to find the location. Kati Kádár and David Thompson both identified the bust, but flopped on the location. Kati wrote: "OK this time I didn’t cheat. I just looked at his nose and thought - isn't that Franz Joseph Haydn?" (I didn't know about the Franz bit, myself Kati.) David got the Haydn bit, but then put him on the rakpart - shame, but at least we know he didn't cheat. The left six respondents whose names (well, numbers, actually) went into the wooly hat for getting both the composer and location correctly. Well, sort of. The committee pondered long and hard about one entry, which gave the answer: "It is of course József Haydn which you and I will have passed many times on trips to and from a game of billiards. Those were the days." David - this is a prestigious, international competition in which you need to provide accurate location details, not just where you went to play pool with you mate. And he wasn't Hungarian, so his name is either Joseph (that's what Wikipedia says) or, I think the German spelling would be Josef. Anyway, seeing as you suffered so much trauma losing at pool, you are getting on a bit, AND it is the season of goodwill, your number went into the hat. But fortunately, because it might have involved an expensive lawsuit ... you didn't win! Indeed, the winning number was 6 (on the list) which turned out to be none other than the star of KT17 - Géza Jeszenszky. Géza is, of course, used to public attention from his past life as Foreign Minister, I just hope he can brace himself for the new fandom that he has been brought upon himself. Congratulations, Géza, we shall have to arrange for the official, first-prize award ceremony: I fear there will be much international media and public interest when you buy me the two beers :) Among the other winning entries of special note was Alan Sutton, the first correct entry, who told me (after I asked) "I can play a few of his sonatas, and a lot of them are dedicated to various Esterhazys," - although I'm not sure of his instrument. Annabel Barber, of Blue Guide fame, replied: "It’s the bust of Haydn in the Horváth kert. District I." Thanks for that, Annabel - I didn't know the name of that particular green bit. So, just to clarify: this bust of Haydn is in the small park on Attila út, near the 5 and 178 bus stop after it crosses Alagút utca. But it stands back a bit, so it's easy to miss.

Here's a fuller photo to help you.

Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau, Lower Austria, which is on the west bank of the river Leitha, at that time the border with Hungary. Depending on the depth of the river at that point, as a boy he might have been able to wade across the river into Hungary within minutes of his front door. Before about 1995, when the motorway was opened on the Austrian side, drivers would pass a sign indicating Haydn's birthplace. I presume it's still there on the old road. Now, please think about KT19 - which is proving far harder than I thought - with no fully correct answers so far. (Perhaps everyone's out shopping.) Have a good week!

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