The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

n the same day’s post, I get called for jury ser­vice and a cer­vi­cal smear. While nei­ther of those mis­sives is en­tirely wel­come, I only give se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion to try­ing to get out of one of them. I pre­sume I don’t have to tell you which one — gen­er­ally speak­ing, it’s not nec­es­sary to en­gage with lawyers if you want to avoid a smear test.

But whichever way I look at it, my twin sum­monses con­sti­tute a poor day’s post. I don’t know why, all these years into adult­hood, I still re­tain a child­ish glee about re­ceiv­ing letters, but I do. When I was very small, the only per­son who ever wrote to me — birth­day cards don’t count as proper post; ev­ery­one knows that — was my Aun­tie Bin­nie, down in Mac­room, who would re­ply to my reg­u­lar, lengthy letters with a sin­gle scrawled page and make my week. I can still see the en­velopes; Basil­don Bond, pale blue, with my name pre­ceded by the ti­tle ‘Miss’, and all the tell­tale signs of an im­por­tant mis­sive that had spent a cou­ple of days wend­ing its way from Cork to our door­mat. I don’t re­mem­ber much about the letters at all — it was all to do with the en­ve­lope, with my name and with the postal ser­vice ac­knowl­edg­ing that I was a lit­tle per­son, too.

My Dublin granny once sent me a let­ter too — and even though I saw her twice a week, I re­mem­ber more about her ex­cit­ing en­ve­lope than I do about most of those vis­its.

Even in to­day’s era of elec­tronic mail and in­stant mes­sag­ing, I think all chil­dren get a thrill from re­ceiv­ing a let­ter — even if the only cor­re­spon­dence they ever re­ally re­ceive con­cerns den­tal ap­point­ments and the oc­ca­sional ex­cur­sion to Spec­savers. Sens­ing his gar­gan­tuan enthusiasm for even these piti­ful crumbs, I once signed a very, very, young Boy up for a reg­u­lar news­let­ter from an ob­scure or­der of mis­sion­ary priests — partly be­cause I reck­oned they would be the type to keep in touch, but also be­cause I knew how much he longed to see his name on an en­ve­lope. I’m not even sure he could read back then, but the sim­ple act of pick­ing up a monthly mis­sive that was for his eyes only, made him, for a cou­ple of years, the hap­pi­est lit­tle mail re­cip­i­ent in the world. And be­cause I re­mem-

The Hus­band and I cor­re­sponded largely by let­ter for our first year (which makes it sound like we met in 1793, not 1993)

bered ex­actly how that felt, I shared his joy.

But I re­ally should have grown out of it by now. Al­though The Hus­band and I cor­re­sponded largely by let­ter for the first year of our re­la­tion­ship (even writ­ing that now makes it sound like I met him in 1793, not 1993), since then, pretty much all I have got in the post are bills — most of which are paid by di­rect debit and so don’t even re­quire a re­sponse; ap­peals for char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions and a moun­tain of deeply un­pleas­ant cor­re­spon­dence re­gard­ing the Celebrity Bain­is­teoir court case. Given that, you would think that the sound of the post land­ing on our hall floor would make my heart sink — but still ev­ery day it skips, and I can’t wait to be dis­ap­pointed all over again.

That said, there is a com­pli­ca­tion to my re­la­tion­ship with the postal ser­vice at the mo­ment, as I am cur­rently be­ing stalked by a pair of boots. I bought the of­fend­ing pair on­line — or, to be more spe­cific, I bought an iden­ti­cal pair of the of­fend­ing boots on­line, and then, be­cause the promised email trum­pet­ing their dis­patch never ar­rived, I bought them all over again.

Cue great eu­pho­ria at ex­cit­ing boots ar­riv­ing in the post; fol­lowed, a day later, by deep gloom when an iden­ti­cal pair also rocked up. Still, in spite of a weight of ev­i­dence to the con­trary, I am a grown-up, and so I fol­lowed the in­cred­i­bly elab­o­rate re­turns in­struc­tions and, in jig time, UPS ar­rived to take the sec­ond pair away.

But ap­par­ently, those boots were made for walk­ing. Be­cause even though I had mailed them to an ad­dress in The Nether­lands, within a cou­ple of days, the ex­act same pair — with my com­pleted re­turns form still in the box — was back on my doorstep, this time dis­patched from Ger­many.

Three days ago, I sent them away again, though to be hon­est, there is a tiny, men­tal part of me that looks for­ward to see­ing them again. I will know if they do come back, of course, be­cause the post­man will have to ring the bell. And that’s the thing, you see: in this house, pop­u­lated by eter­nal chil­dren, the post­man never has to ring twice.

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