“Wait a minute, Mr Postman…”

Until sometime around the early ’80s I was very Little Britain, very provincial – I just assumed that everybody had a letterbox in their front door, plus a postman to trudge round every morning pushing letters through it. It wasn’t until my sister emigrated to Canada and started to tell these tales

Well, it seems that even in the middle of winter, when temperatures are 40 degrees below or whatever, if she wants her mail she has to don full arctic gear and big, slip-proof boots and trudge down the newly snow-ploughed driveway in order to spray something on her mailbox to melt the overnight ice that has welded it shut. She also needs a chisel or screwdriver in case the spray doesn’t work, and then a key

And it wasn’t until sometime in the 90s, when I went to work for a university college providing postgraduate distance-learning courses to students all over the globe, that I realised there could be such a thing as a dwelling that does not have a well-defined address. So we could be mailing giant parcels of course materials to “Beyond the village, turn left at the lake, third hut.” I used to wonder how they plugged their computers in, because surely a hut whose location could only be vaguely described would not have electricity. Students also had trouble with beads of sweat dropping onto the page, creeping damp, and ants. Paper-chomping ants.

You would think I would be grateful for my nice, civilised British letter-box and my nice, predictable British postman – or in fact, lady – but I have come to mostly dread what might tumble through it. I cannot properly concentrate until the witching hour – mid-day or thereabouts – has passed and I know I am safe from yet another bill or – OMG, the Bank Statement. That always arrives on the 13th. I spend the whole month dreading the 13th. I count down to the 13th. In various ways I aim to distract myself from the fact that the 13th is drawing ever closer.

Aside from bills there is the monthly Parish Council Newsletter to cast a pall. This is a single sheet of A4 paper folded into three. This month it is yellow. Even the folding-into-three depresses me. It reminds me of when I was a legal secretary and had to fold my boss’s signed post and put it in the envelope, with the address showing exactly in the centre of the glassine window. I was very good at this.

In fact I still am. I only have to look at an A4 sheet of paper and I can fold it exactly into three, with the edges exactly touching. I can even accomplish this feat with my eyes shut. Trouble is, it reminds me that a) I was no good at any other part of that job and b) it was the only thing I ever managed to do that impressed my mother. It seemed to be my life’s work to impress my parents in some way but all I ever manged was the paper-folding thing. And then only my mother.

The Parish Council Newsletter enrages me because it lectures me, in badly-written, ungrammatical prose, on things I have not done wrong:

Dog Fouling: Please be aware it is an instant fine for not picking up after your dogs. It is also unhygienic and nasty!” I don’t have a dog.

Parking: Complaints have been received,  (and why the comma?) that there is an issue with people parking in places that can be considered dangerous. It has also been reported that there has been parking on paths and green areas, you can be fined up to £500 for this offence.” But not me, guv. And where? What green areas? What paths? And complaints by whom? At least make it interesting.

Speeding Cars: Please note that the exit road from the village is a 30mph road, and many concerns have been received especially from parents walking children to and from school.” How is anything managing to drive at over 20mph, say, when the road is beset with giant speed-bumps so large even the bus has to slow right down to negotiate them? Is there a manic 40mph cyclist about?

Or else it tells me things I don’t care about even though I feel I probably ought to:

The Annual Seniors Christmas Lunch in the Village Hall. Forms available from the Post Office.”  Just went gluten-free. And went last year. That was an experience.

Christmas Lights Competition –  6 prizes of £25 each.” Why not use up the earth’s dwindling resources and pollute the starlit night sky with tawdry flashing lights? Why not spend £100 on lights and electricity in order to win £25?

Park Renovations – The Village park is in need of a new paint job, this has been sourced and the work should start shortly.” I’m confused. Are they painting the grass a more acceptable shade of green?

The stupid yellow creature just makes me feel slightly at odds with the rest of the human race – defective, somehow.

Into the Recycling you shall go, ee-aye ee-aye ee-aye oh
And if I catch you bending…

mother brown 2

Knees up, Mother Brown…

But enough of that, now.

22 thoughts on ““Wait a minute, Mr Postman…”

  1. Oh my word… I just switched on my bedside light – I’m awake but procrastinating getting out of my warm bed. No emails worth reading. I’ve quit reading the news. No texts to answer. Damn. Do I really have to get up? No, wait, there’s WordPress! And yes, a post worth reading!

    Oh my word, you make me laugh, even as I’m groaning in sympathy. Why are those ghastly Official Newsletters always written in the passive voice?? And why is it called the passive voice when it’s so clearly hostile?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too have lived in a remote croft, where in deep winter weather there would be a trudge to the post box and a defrosting, but no key. No need to lock up a post box that is served by an isolated road going nowhere, for letters with nothing important in, on an island that takes two hours over the sea to get to.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Because you do NOT want to live with rats, lonely isolation, the really, really dark winter, being snowed in, the wind pushing the smoke down the chimney when it changed direction (a lot) and having to live on the north side of a hill to try to grow things. Oh and also because you are going to always “Blossom wherever you are planted”.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I fear my blossoming days are long gone, but I love the image and will ponder further upon it. Actually I have the rats, a whole family of them that get fed along with the birds – ‘The Ratties’. I even find myself talking to them, from behind the kitchen window…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m fine until they sit looking at me from within a draw full of teatowels, then I think “I’m moving!” I just realised also looking at Google maps that it isn’t 8 miles, but only 6.1 and all these years I’ve said 8, but not in a lie, just ignorance (which in law is no excuse). Oh if you ever get to see Orkney, start in Stromness and the tiny streets using Google maps. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir/59.0142958,-3.3425715/58.9649496,-3.2965399/@58.9931735,-3.385438,11170m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m2!4m1!3e2

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’ve never been to Orkney but I did go through a phase of reading all the George Mackay Brown books of ‘descriptions of Orcadian life’ – Letters From Hamnavoe, etc., plus his biography.


      5. That’s interesting, no, I didn’t. I have always liked the name Rosie although it’s not my real name but an accidental ‘nom-de-blog’, which was based on my then-email address, which WordPress used to make a username for me.

        Rosie is the name of my oldest, most beloved cat, who is still (just about) alive. I much prefer it to Linda, which my parents forced upon me

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I didn’t keep the name my parents chose. Thankfully I was a girl otherwise I would ‘ave been a Douglas (holy moly I just realised how it would have been so suitable, it just dawned on me as I do gardening using the no-dig method, shit you not, just now, “light bulb” moment) {{{giggling}}}

        Liked by 1 person

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