Thursday, 3 March 2005

How to post (or mail) a letter

Easy, you say: if you’re American, drop it into a mailbox; if British, into a pillar box (whence, confusingly, their mail is collected by the US Postal Service and our post by Royal Mail).

Ah, but supposing the box is a quarter of a mile away, it’s snowing and icy outside, and you have your slippers on?

Faced with this challenge, I seriously considered following the procedure used by P G Wodehouse: he would, when in England, simply toss his letters out of the window, his belief being that most passers-by are decent people and, finding a stamped and addressed envelope on the pavement (or, when he was over there, the sidewalk), would naturally pop it into the nearest pillar (or mail) box. His faith never once, in several decades, proved unfounded.

I’m not sure that my faith in humanity is as profound as PGW’s and I wondered whether it would be safer to wait outside my gate until I could accost someone with an honest face who was walking past in the right direction, but it occurred to me that this might mean a long cold wait, and I would still have to put some shoes on.

Happily, I then realised that the items I had to post were not in any way urgent: it would matter not one iota, jot, or even tittle if none of them reached the addressees for a week or two. So they remain on the hall table awaiting a balmy day with light southerly breezes; thank God I don’t live in the Yukon.


lawyerchik said...

It's too bad that your postmen (?is that right?) don't collect mail where they deliver it. Here in the U.S., we put letters into our own box (where the mailman delivers mail), and he will take letters that need to be posted when he returns to the office.

Tony said...

Ah, but how many people in the U.S. have their mail (and newspapers) put through their letterbox so that it falls on the doormat inside and you can pick it up without even getting dressed?
And I don't understand how it works with you when the mailman picks up mail. Does he have a key to your mailbox?
Actually in London we don't use the postal service for local mail: we just get a footman or one of the maids to deliver it by hand.