Square Mile Magazine


When they're not on strike, postmen and women play a vital role in our lives. Just think about it for a moment: without our local postie, how would we know if we were overdrawn, seriously ill or pregnant?

The earliest known postman was Pheidippides (or Philip). Philip carried the news of a Greek victory in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, his message being of such urgency that he ran all the way to Athens. When he arrived, he forgot the news and died of embarrassment. These days Philip could simply pop into his local Post Office and enquire about registered post or one of the many courier services now available.

In his play, 'Death of a Postman', Arthur Miller depicts perfectly life on the road - or pavement - for the average postie; a life of endless battles against illegible hand-writing, wild dogs, long hills and the condition known as "postman's pant". Some spend their days waiting in vain to be upgraded to parcels, whilst others run private clinics for DHL to boost their income.

Postmen have amazing feet which adapt to the unique pounding-and-mileage combination the postal foot undergoes. Over the years postmen's feet become flatter and flatter to the point where, unsocked, they resemble ping-pong bats, hence the saying, 'postmen's feet never die, they just fade away'. Once the feet become membrane-thin, the postman is fighting a losing battle and should call it a day.

It is a popular misconception that the postman always rings twice. Most ring once and run off. This is a form of the children's game 'knock-down ginger' and comes complete with calling card: "I rang but you were on the loo."

By the year 2025 all post will either be sent electronically ("email") or beamed directly into our heads ("headmail") via infrared technology, thus rendering the postman surplus to requirements. After years of pounding the streets it is hoped that many will take on more sedentary roles - armchair critic perhaps, or backseat driver - roles in which bleeding-though-the-sock is kept to a minimum.

© copyright 2008 Saul Wordsworth
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