Alan Johnson’s first volume of memoirs, This Boy, is still in the bestsellers’ list, but the Stakhanovite postman has made a second delivery, timed impeccably for the party conference season. It charts his escape from the urban jungle of Notting Hill to Britwell council estate in Slough, via a succession of GPO sorting offices and eventually to high office in the Union of Communications Workers.
Like its predecessor, Please, Mister Postman takes its title from a Beatles classic. The boy left in the care of his 16-year-old sister after their mother’s death dreamed of becoming a rock star. He played in a succession of pop groups and even recorded a demo disc, until the theft of the band’s equipment, including his precious Hofner Verithin guitar, from a room above an Islington pub, put paid to his musical career.