In the March 19th issue of the Economist, there is an article “Kamikaze Politics” about political scandals in Japan, which has the following two sentences.
At midweek a new deputy governor, Masaaki Shirakawa, looked likely, at least for a while, to fill the vacuum—an unnecessary one, since candidates acceptable to both sides have been there for the choosing all along, notably Haruhiko Kuroda, head of the Asian Development Bank. By not putting him forward, Mr Fukuda showed himself unable and unwilling even to pick up the phone to the opposition.
Pick up the phone to? What’s that?
A cursory examination of google search results indicates that this seems to be a UK and Australian thing to say. If it happens in America, I’ve certainly never heard it. It’s a nice example of a multiword expression. What’s interesting is that it’s a communication verb that incorporates the means of communication (like phone, fax, email, and write) but which, perhaps due to syntax of the words in the expression, requires the person called to be expressed with the preposition to (like talk, speak, and write).
(yes, write goes in both places: I write (letters) to my aunt every week, but I write my uncle every month)