The bright and almost warm sunshine this afternoon reminded me of my time as a postman walking the streets in summer, on a bike! Always the bets way to walk the streets. At that time the daft new rules had been brought in, the Union rolling over and submitting to the bosses in their usual manner, rules that changed this pleasant but hard job into a hard and unpleasant routine for many.
Delivering early in the sun is great. The cats all greet you, imagining you will open the door and feed them, instead you speak to them, post the mail and turn away. The cats then possess an expression that would make Maggie Thatcher tremble! At some times of the year the bushes in the gardens would be covered in what looks like thin white silk. This turns out to be spiders webs about a foot or so across, often a dozen or more on a bush. The morning dew added a glint in the sun to these, although difficult to photograph properly I find. The dew on lavender plants heightening the fragrance as you brush past the stalks leaning over the pathways. Lavender is a common plant in this area, the long purple rows can be seen on many farms. The scent wafted around as I passed but the cats did not appear to care.
In those days I often met with mothers taking the brats to school. On on occasion I rang the bell just as mum was yelling "Get down here this minute! I said NOW! not tomorrow!" She opened the bell somewhat sheepishly realising I must have overheard. "Don't worry lass," Says I, "Every other house down the road is doing exactly the same." Indeed they were. The house where a child, or children, trotted cheerfully and quickly off to school does not exist. Some parents believe others have an easy time with their kids, they are wrong! All children are brats! As I returned from a house further along the family were now acting out 'happiness and obedience' in the same style all the other mums dragging their brood to primary school were. Kids often look out for the postman. On occasions wee George will be straining to see the postman, meaning the regular man will hesitate before moving on so as to wave to the boy. This will continue for several days and suddenly stop. Wee George has lost interest and possibly has another to wave to.
Postmen of course do not deliver to you. Postmen deliver to an address. No 24 is what matters, not Mrs Smith. Postmen sign the Secrets Act because the mail belongs to 'Her Majesty the English Queen,' although she never makes any attempt to deliver it herself. So much for sex equality! What is delivered is none of the postie's business, he just carries the stuff, and if he discovers what is being sent, from whom and to whom, he cannot pass on such information to anyone, even the police. Any legitimate authority must go through the proper channels if required. Naturally it is not difficult to guess what many people (called 'customers today') are receiving however few will really care. Nosiness has its limits, especially when there are several more sacks of mail to get through. It is customary for postmen to act natural with 'customers' in spite of the sex machines, interesting pills, and other legal implements that show through badly packaged mail.
People are strange. Most I met around here were sensible enough, boringly normal for the most part, but occasionally something will arise. One postman in Chelmsford was apparently met by a naked women (age not known) as he desired a signature for an item. He was later informed by a policeman friend that he could have been done as a 'peeping tom' for that! I doubt he would have been. I might have waited until she signed and suggested "You'd better put some clothes on lass, they will think he wants you for your money!"
The nearest I got was a young lass in her underwear who possibly expected the parcel van driver. She certainly was disappointed to see me. I managed not to suggest that a diet would help her love life. But only just.
Ah memories. Memories are of course better than the pain in the knees, the weight of the mail, the unfortunate management, the rain, the hail, the snow and on occasion the sunshine. One year some folks were claiming it was too hot! Stupid men! These were the ones who sit in a little van going around the villages. In between stops for coffee from friendly farmers daughters and one or two wives, something we 'townies' never got, the sun shining through the windscreen must have made life difficult for them on their 300 drops. I had 500 at least!!! Bah! Well it is a good job I was never one to complain, as there were reasons to. Being a postman, on the good days, was once a very enjoyable job, and I had hoped to continue this until I retired. Maybe of course the knee has saved me many troubles as I do not think I would enjoy the confused and overworked life such men endure today. Yes I know what you are saying, women are postmen also. However in those uniforms it was difficult to tell!