Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Lost Post

Playing one day on the Bugle,
I was weary and ill at ease,

And my tunes all wandered idly
Into some minor keys

- The Lost Post

Arriving home this evening, I looked eagerly in my mailbox to see if I had any bills, or junk mail, only to find that I had an official looking letter. Addressed to someone else. I decided not to open it, since as far as I could tell it didn't contain any money, but it got me thinking.

It's not unusual to get misdirected mail, because there are two or three roads, at least one of which is mis-signed, most of the blocks of flats don't actually have front doors onto any of these roads (ours opens onto a footpath between two of them), and very few of them have any numbers on the doors. All of which ensures that the postmen have to work for their money, and they do a pretty good job considering.

So that's where my fan mail went this week...

Nevertheless, I wonder what is in these misdirected items. And whether they ever get to where they're going. Occasionally you hear of things being delivered many years late, and I always thought it was because letters fell down behind furniture in the sorting office, only to be discovered during a move or a refurb, but perhaps some of them just keep getting directed to the wrong place. In a country of around 30 million households a letter could be delivered to a different address each working day and take about 100,000 years to get to its rightful destination.

When Helena was little she had a book by John Patience, one of the wonderfully illustrated "Fern Hollow" stories, called "Mrs Merryweather's letter". Mrs Merryweather is a duck, and her friend (whose name I forget) writes her a letter inviting herself round for tea the following day. The wind blows the letter out of the postman's hand, and it ends up going to all sorts of places, including a bird's nest before it gets blown into the duck's kitchen just before the arrival of her friend.

Of course, "snail mail" is considerably more reliable than email. Reduced reliability is desirable so that one can say things like "The cheque's in the post.", "Sorry, I didn't recieve any mail about that.", and so on.

They really should introduce misdirection into Blogger. That way I can assure you that I did do a post in the last 6 days, but, by some misfortune, it must have found its way onto a completely unrelated blog site. It's not that I was lethargic and uninspired...


Bee said...

I once received a letter from the same friend who found me recently and it had been put in the wrong mailbox. I got it about a month later with a letter from the person who opened saying they apologized for opening my mail.

We constantly get other people’s mail at my house but it’s usually for the previous owners. I just write “NO LONGER LIVES HERE” and send it back.

Sooooooo does the duck go and tell the friend in person to come over for tea or what? The suspense is killing me! ;o)

Brian o vretanos said...


I've just dug out the book. I got it all wrong. Mrs Merryweather the duck, who lives in Poppletown, wrote the letter to tell her friend Mrs Willowbank (a hedgehog living in Fern Hollow) that she's going to call round for tea the next day. The letter arrives just before Mrs Merryweather gets there and the two friends share a pot of tea and some plum cake...

Bee said...

Oh that's lovely! (she says in a British accent)

Jean Knee said...

lethargic and uninspired are my middle names.

as well as sloth and a few others


Jean Knee said...

yeah the excitement in that book is killing me too