Deborah Devonshire

Death of a Post Office

Deborah Devonshire laments the death of a post office

They shut our Post Office yesterday. For the first time in living memory there is no early morning light in that end of the ancient cottage and the little shop that went with it. The stacks of newspapers and magazines with unlikely titles have disappeared overnight.

No longer can a letter be weighed to go to the ends of the earth. No more the postmaster, with one elbow on the counter, turning the thick cardboard sheets with the bright-coloured stamps of all prices lurking between them, painstakingly adding them up to the right amount for a letter to Easter Island or Nizhny Novgorod. No more blue airmail stickers to speed the thing along like a migrating bird. The letter box remains, but what good is that without a stamp? It is a ghostly reminder that yet another service in another part of life is finished.

So it is into the car once more to queue in the Bakewell supermarket, instead of walking down the hill, looking at the gardens and the dogs, and seeing the minibus calling for the schoolchildren. What about the old people who haven’t got a car?

What about the other pensioners in the village? No one cares about them because they don’t stab each other after a bout of drinking and have never bothered the police or a councillor in their lives. For these people, who spend most of their time alone at home, the Post Office was like a club. Old and young met there, people called in on their way to work to pick up a paper, as well as children on their way to and from school. They had a chat, a grumble, compared gardening notes or gave news of a former resident who has gone to New Zealand.

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