Very few school leavers heading for university this autumn will experience the grim ritual that faced students before the days of mobile phones: looking for a phone box that was working and not being used.
When I went to the University of Leicester 25 years ago, I quickly got used to the frustration of hanging around waiting for someone to finish their call. Finding the person you were calling was out - or engaged. Feeling awkward as you finally enjoyed a conversation but a sinister looking stranger gave you an evil look for not finishing your call. (This usually ended with the sinister stranger tapping the window menacingly.)
Back in the 1980s, it was all too common to find phone boxes vandalised or even - if my memory isn't playing tricks - out of action because the coin box was full. So making just one call could mean half an hour or more in the cold - and the winters of 1983/84 and 1984/85 were freezing in the East Midlands.
When anyone asks why we need mobile phones, I'll send them in search of the phone boxes of Walnut Street (above), Narborough Road and Fosse Road South in Leicester...