Somehow this simile only works with the kind of phone Golding is describing, from the 1950s. It doesn’t quite ring true with today flat-packed smarty-phones.
But there certainly was a small area at the far end of the building devoted to clerical activities, with a counter, a dais with several chairs, and a proliferation of telephones like fungi round a tree-stump.
Source: Louis Golding, Good-bye to Ithaca (London: Hutchinson, 1955), p. 40
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