Posts tagged ‘telephones’


4 December 2012

Scope Creep

Michael Grayshott

The Post Office rolled out the K6 telephone kiosk in 1935, to celebrate George V’s silver jubilee. One unintended consequence, as the postmaster general, Kingsley Wood, explained to Parliament, was ‘an increasing number of cases where miserable people have indulged in the use of improper or obscene language to our female telephonists’. A switchboard operator might valiantly try to ensure the caller ‘held the line’ long enough for an engineer to trace his location, but the heavy-breathers had unwittingly found a loophole in the law. The GPO tried to bodge a solution from some statutory off-cuts, either arguing that this behaviour constituted ‘fraudulent use of electricity’ or invoking the even more obscure common law offence of ‘obstruction’, but these were cumbersome and ineffective remedies.