A Christmas posting
After National Service, it took some time to readjust to civilian life and, to my shame, I was forced to visit the local Labour Exchange to find work.
I did eventually land a job of sorts – as a part-time Christmas postman.
It was not as easy as I thought. The Christmas Day postal deliveries meant that I was at the sorting office by 6am and it was one of the coldest Christmasses for several years.
The two-week run up to Christmas was spent emptying post boxes and taking the swag back to the sorting office on my Post Office bike, which boasted two speeds: slow and stop. I was sure there was some kind of extra terrestrial communication between my bike and the post boxes – no matter how hard I pressed the pedals, it seemed to go slower as I approached a post box.
Bit of a rum do…
And so it came to Christmas morning in 1955. It had snowed overnight and ice ruts had formed in the roads. I struggled manfully to guide my bike and
its bag of cards through the frozen streets. I turned into my first delivery road and made my first drop at Number 2. As I returned to my bike, the front door opened and a little old lady called to me.
“Happy Christmas postman. Would you care for a Christmas drink?”
I was cold and fed up, but agreed that a drink A might help. I was shown into a warm and cosy room where a second little old lady greeted me.
I was offered a choice of drinks, none of which I had tasted before. I did, however, remember seeing tots of rum being downed in some recent war films, so I plumped for rum.
I also remembered that it was downed in one, so I did that. After my head removed itself from the ceiling, I was offered another tot. I was feeling no further after effects from the first one, so I accepted the offer.
I thanked my hosts as they opened their front door for me. A blast of cold air hit me full in the face as I staggered to my bike. For no obvious reason, I fell off it before I could get started.
Both ladies rushed to my aid and gradually untangled me from my bike and postbag. For two old ladies who looked like they couldn’t lift a watering can between them, they were remarkably strong. While one held the bike upright, the other helped me to mount it and then placed my postbag back on board. Eventually I managed to get going again and weaved my way along the frozen ruts in the road. I remembered nothing after that spontaneous burst of activity.
After the Christmas break, I returned to the sorting office to collect my pay. I was told the Postmaster wanted to see me.
“How did your Christmas Day deliveries go?” he asked rather pointedly.
“Fine, Sir,” I replied. “Then, why have I got this?” he said, reaching under his desk and pulling out a postbag bulging with mail. Apparently the gist of his subsequent tirade was that after leaving the two old ladies, 1 had found the nearest post box and (ahem) had posted the remaining cards back to the sorting office.
I offer my sincerest apologies to the residents of that road. Due to unforeseen circumstances, they did not receive their Christmas Day post in 1955.