Posted in Personal life

The Mysterious Invisibility of Telegraph Poles

Telegraph pole in my garden's airspace
Easy to spot, even in the evening light, yet still I never notice the interloper in my garden airspace

Negotiating my way slowly between the electricity company’s vans in Back Lane, watching its workmen make a tarmac patchwork of the pavement, I realise I’ve never noticed just how many telegraph poles we have in our village.

For 21 years I’ve lived with electricity cables crossing my garden’s airspace, yet the only notice I’ve taken has been to avoid siting my washing line beneath them. (There’s nothing a perching bird likes better for target practice than a drying line of clean washing.)

Opening my bedroom shutters each morning, I never see the telegraph pole that bisects the view.

When I was given a Victorian photo of my house last year, it was days before I could put my finger on why it looked so odd: there wasn’t a telegraph pole in sight.

When telegraph poles first came to the village, they must have caused a great deal of excitement, whether relaying telephone messages or hitching us up to the National Grid.

And they still do. What I like best about them is the way we use these poles to spread word of imminent village events. On their familiar brown trunks¸ over the years, we’ve pinned up posters for everything from jumble sales to judo, from youth club to yoga, confident that they’d effectively spread the word. Little wonder that lately some of them have become more tin tack than tree.

Advertising column in Parisian street
Who needs Parisian elegance...
telegraph pole used for advertising posters
...not Hawkesbury Upton!

So let’s hope that after the cables have gone underground, the electricity company leaves us a few trusty telegraph poles for Hawkesbury’s special messaging service – even if they don’t have any cables to support.

(This post was originally written for Hawkesbury Parish News, March 2012 edition.)


Author of warm, witty and gently funny fiction and non-fiction, including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series, beginning with "Best Murder in Show", inspired by her life in an English Cotswold community, short stories and essays about country life. As Commissioning Editor for the Alliance of Independent Authors' Advice Centre, she writes guidebooks authors. She speaks at many literature festivals and writing events, and is part of BBC Radio Gloucestershire's monthly Book Club broadcast. She is founder and director of the free Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival which takes place in April, a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, and an ambassador for children's reading charity Read for Good and the Type 1 diabetes charity JDRF.

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