Postman Pat and the Big Share Sell-Off

Carrier Pigeon

The Royal Mail here in the UK is being privatised.  The fire share-sale has been over-subscribed and big investors have already had their snouts in the trough for a few days, with some kind of pre-trading arrangement sending the share price soaring.  GenPop gets to have a play with whatever they’ve been allocated from tomorrow.  Good luck to all.

I’ve been an enthusiastic consumer of Royal Mail’s services since I was young.  I was an avid letter-writer as a child, with penfriends in the USA, Germany, Australia, Spain and all around the UK.  For a while I collected stamps, steaming them off envelopes arriving from far-flung territories, until David Cassidy and Donny Osmond began to command my pre-pubescent attention.  Cut to a few years later and it was tear-stained letters to a squaddie stationed in Germany.

I’m still a girl at heart, which means I remember people’s birthdays and I like to thank friends when they’ve been especially kind or hospitable.  So I send cards – lots of them – mostly handmade and precious.  And I’m an extreme shopper too – books (of course!) from Amazon, and so, so many things I need, from shopping telly, Ebay and two dozen more favoured outlets.

Way back when, we used to have two deliveries a day; one before I left for school and one shortly after lunch.  A few years ago that dropped to one delivery a day which floated aimlessly around the morning hours and finally settled, where I now live, to a semi-reliable slot in the early afternoon. All well and good, since we send fewer letters and more emails these days, so the argument goes.

But it’s 5pm, and I’ve just this minute heard the post rattle through the letterbox. So is that an aberration – a vandalised van, a poorly postie, or other excusable?  Or is it an indication of the way things are going to go, as Royal Mail strives – struggles – to compete in the private sector.  We’re in a new age where people write rarely using paper and envelopes and stamps, but instead share their lives via texts and Twitter, e-cards and Facebook.  It makes me wonder, if I were growing up today, with technology at my fingertips, would I even know what a stamp was?

14 thoughts on “Postman Pat and the Big Share Sell-Off

    1. Sad, but I’m not surprised to hear it. I fear they are missing out on the excitement of sending, and much more, receiving, cards and letters in the post. Somehow it’s not quite the same, clicking on a line item in your In Tray, as ripping into a handwritten envelope that just dropped on to the doormat.

  1. I’ve kept all of my sweet grandmother’s letters, not to mention love letters from my husband when we were courting from afar. Those letters are precious to me and I feel bad for an entire generation that is missing out on that.

    1. You’re right. Emails are so temporary. Nobody is going to be keeping a shoebox under their bed stuffed with old emails, are they? Letters and cards get cherished.

  2. For many, many people a letter from a friend still means a great deal, and there is something about a handwritten letter, not a card, that is treasured, personal condolences expressed, congratulations, support, encouragement all these in a letter have a place in treasure boxes. I think the Royal Mail is still going to be around for some years to come. And who can forget the faithful postie who did the same walk for their whorl working life. As a teenager I was thrilled to bits to be asked to do Christmas sorting shifts in our local sorting office, before machines and post codes of course! Happy days.

    1. How lovely, that what started as a bit of a grumble about a tardy postal delivery is spawning such positive memories and appreciations of a Great British Institution.

  3. Back to reality.. You can expect worse. In the US, semi privatization of the Postal Service has resulted in steadily increased rates and reduction of services ( they’re talking about doing away with Saturday delivery altogether). The reason is related to huge losses in revenue as a result of email, downloads and on line periodicals.

    1. You’re right – and it’s happening already. On the news at lunchtime, Royal Mail’s spokesperson wasted no time signposting future postal price rises, even though the last was less than 18 months ago and took a basic first class letter from 46p to 60p – a rise of [counts on fingers and toes…] over 30%. I’m going to have to send my precious handmade masterpieces by carrier pigeon in future. But I’m not a total luddite – email is a fabulous convenience.

  4. Listen to us will you. Going on about writing letters and sending cards and notes. Emails under the bed made my day. You do know who we are don’t you my lady?
    Do you think (they) will remember us for long once we pass away? I have often wondered how long my children and grandchildren will keep my written words in their lives. And good lord what will they do with my beloved poems? I do know my sweet wife will keep my written words as she loves them so. And I so enjoy writing poems for her as it makes my heart sing. Funny I said that as I have written a post about wishing to be able to sing and now fully realize I truly can sing in my own way and have been told many times I have a beautiful inner voice. I am so thankful that I am one of those; one of the few who expresses with the written word. We are so richly blessed indeed. Loved your post as usual. Thank you for it.

    1. I’ve no idea what your vocal chords can produce by way of melody, but you do have a beautiful and honest inner voice in your writing. People before us bemoaned the demise of the Victorian style of letter writing, where the writer would drench their words in scent, wrap them in ribbons and dispatch them at pretty much any time of the day, to be delivered later that same day by a liveried messenger. But even in their reduced state – plain old Basildon Bond, onionskin Air Mailers and the like – letters were little treasures. ‘Soft’ media – emails and .docs won’t have the staying power of letters and diaries – but that’s no reason not to write. You and I and many, many others, still treasure the written word. And we need also to appreciate the capability of the internet to release our missives to the world, rather than see them restricted to a solitary recipient. A pleasure, as always. 🙂

  5. First of all, I really enjoyed reading this. It brought on a bit of nostalgia for me. I was an avid letter writer, throughout my childhood, as well. I still write the occasional letter but, I definitely don’t write as much as I used too. Thanks for this trip down memory lane. I think I’ll write a letter now!

    1. There’s something special about getting a real letter with news from friends or family, notes from penpals across the world which arrive courtesy of exotic stamps. I know time moves on, and emails, text messages and so on are convenient, but I agree with you, there’s a magic in old-fashioned snail-mail letters. I’m glad you enjoyed.

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