Post­man Pat’s brave new world

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Opinion -

SET against the con­tin­u­ing apoc­a­lyp­tic head­lines of global fi­nan­cial tur­moil and the end of the world as we know it, the an­nounce­ment did not strike me as that mo­men­tous. But judg­ing by the hos­tile re­ac­tion to the news that Post­man Pat has had a makeover to bring him into the 21st cen­tury, I have ev­i­dently mis­judged the pub­lic mood. Ap­par­ently Pat, who has spent decades trundling around the ru­ral idyll of Green­dale in his red van res­cu­ing cats from trees and gen­er­ally do­ing good deeds, is to take up a new post at a mod­ern, high-tech sort­ing of­fice in Pen­caster, where he will take charge of “spe­cial de­liv­er­ies”. Of course, if Post­man Pat was truly be­ing brought into the 21st cen­tury, his ru­ral post of­fice would have been closed by now and he would be out of a job. But we can’t have that so as part of this mod­erni­sa­tion, he will be equipped with a stunt bike and he­li­copter – a move which strikes me as hardly re­al­is­tic as I’ve never met any­one who has had a par­cel de­liv­ered by some­one on a stunt bike, let alone a he­li­copter. The Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Work­ers’ Union, which has taken the whole thing rather badly, has is­sued a state­ment telling us that de­spite his pro­mo­tion, Post­man Pat’s salary would still only be £17,000, adding that postal work­ers are liv­ing the night­mare of mod­erni­sa­tion, job losses, clo­sures and pen­sions at risk. I might be in a mi­nor­ity but I’m rather at­tracted to the idea of giv­ing pop­u­lar chil­dren’s char­ac­ters makeovers to re­flect how life has moved on. The Wombles, for in­stance, would no longer be hap­pily col­lect­ing rub­bish on Wim­ble­don Com­mon. In­stead, Tober­mory and his friends would trun­dle around in lor­ries, dressed in high-vis­i­bil­ity vests and re­fus­ing to lift heavy boxes of re­cy­clable ma­te­rial more than 20 me­tres from the road and leav­ing sternly-worded stick­ers on wheely bins about not leav­ing “side waste.” And as the 2012 Olympics ap­proach, per­haps the mak­ers of Bob The Builder can de­velop a story line about him be­ing awarded a lu­cra­tive con­tract to build the ath­letes’ vil­lage only to find costs over­run wildly and he is forced into re­ceiver­ship. I can al­most pre­dict the re­ac­tion from the unions...

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