28 February 2007

The Royal Mail's Universal Service 1840-2007

The Last PostThe Last Post has been sounded for The Royal Mail's Universal Service following the news that the Mail was losing 6p on each stamped letter it delivered - and losing most of the cheques, credit cards and birthday money contained in those letters themselves.

The Royal Mail was founded in 1516, the misbegotten offspring of Henry VIII who established a Master of the Posts to ensure that the enormous volume of billet douxs he penned were delivered to the correct girlfriend - sparing him both embarrassment and unnecessary expenditure on Royal Executioners.

The Royal Mail led a privileged and sheltered life - delivering romantic quatrains to mistresses, declarations of war to cousins who ruled enemy powers and notifications of having won a free entry in Ye Olde Readers' Digeste draw to courtiers - until 1653 when it was forced to go public by Charles I. Sadly the king's plans had to be put on hold for several years after his plan to close Parliament was incorrectly delivered to a Mr O Cromwell and it was only under Charles II that the Royal Mail was incorporated into the General Post Office.

Over the following decades The Royal Mail continued about its work as usual, letting neither snow, nor rain, nor Black Death stay its couriers from the slow completion of such appointed rounds as they could be bothered to deal with before bunging any excess post in the nearest handy plague pit or open sewer.

Change was to come in 1840, when The Royal Mail gave birth the The Universal Service with its uniform penny post - allowing urchins, mill-owners and philanthropists alike to send mail to whomsoever they liked as well as, unfortunately, introducing the dreaded hobby, philately.

Despite this The Universal Service became a popular way of delivering letters, parcels and bombs to all and sundry across the nation, until the effects of the global market began to take their toll. In 2000, battered by constant criticism of its high cost and tardy and erroneous deliveries, Royal Mail first tried to escape its poor image by disguising itself under the name Consignia. Within days it was discovered, after thousands of its new brochures bound for potential customers were found dumped in a wheelie-bin behind the sorting office. Forced to confront the ugly truth it reverted to its original name and spent the last few years of its life harried from pillar box to post office by constant jibes about thieving posties and over-priced stamps. In a desperate bid to stop the rot The Royal Mail began to close rural post offices and calculate postage on increasingly-eccentric scales - weight, size, colour of enevelope, popularity of recipient and ferocity of their dog - but to no avail. It was finally licked this week.

The body of The Royal Mail's Universal Service will be parceled up and posted to the Great Sorting Office in the Sky, but will be delivered to a Mr Graham Torting, Skye where it will remain unopened for a number of weeks before being returned to sender... and delivered to Roy & Alma, the Ale House, Cirencester. It is survived by thousands of private courier companies who guarantee next day delivery and modern modes of communication such as email, texting and shouting very loudly.


Phoenix said...

Great ..er... post!


Jungle VIP said...

Think my nostalgia for some bygone age where the Royal Mail is just part of "england" is misplaced.

Often now, of an evening, I am returning from work along the M4 corridor,often thinking about how much I want to be with my woman and, bingo, there's one of those bloody RM trucks, battered and rusty, it's driver crazed by unrealistic deadlines and a multi-drop schedule, in my mirror. Written in dirt on the back, "I wish my wife was this dirty"

Then, he's gone.....in heartbeat, sweeping the road before him at 80mph. A dangerous juggernaught of a vehicle.....driven by capitalism.

It's not what Anthony Trollope envisaged huh ?


james higham said...

In other words, a Dead Loss.