Monday, 15 September 2014

I Measure An Envelope

Once upon a time, I stuck stamps on envelopes with carefree abandon.  Although I can be verbose, my letters are lightweight, always coming in at under 60 grams; this used, if I remember rightly, to be the maximum weight in the first tier of postage costs. 

Last night, I wrote a postcard to a friend.  It's a large postcard which I bought at the Poets Laureate exhibition at Holyrood Palace: Stephen Raw's calligraphic interpretation of a Carol Ann Duffy poem.  I won't say which poem, as that might spoil the surprise.  I put the card in an A5 envelope to protect it on its journey.

I love receiving letters: I love guessing who the correspondent is from the way in which my name is written; the intimacy and anticipation of sliding my finger along the flap; unfolding the paper; interpreting the character that handwriting lends to expression.

These days, I rarely risk posting something with an enclosure, or something of a non-standard size, without having it checked.  The ritual to which letters and packages are subject at post offices has an element of the absurd and, despite the intention of standardisation, the random.  It involves jabbing them at a plastic sheet, into which slots of increasing size are cut, until they pass through to the other side. 

Postmistresses and masters can vary in their approach to the fake letterbox ritual - some being cautious and distant, looking for a packet's easy and rulebook clearance, and others trying to squeeze a packet through the narrowest possible slot, whilst giving me a conspiratorial nod and wink.

Today, I have found myself in charge of the postcard's destiny having discovered a book of six first class stamps in my purse.  On the back of the book it tells me that these stamps are valid for an item up to 240 x 165 x 5 mm in size.  Fortunately, I also have a ruler to hand.

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