Postie Down….John Bircham of Exmoor

RIP mate.



Letting it all in…


A postie spends a major part of his day on his own.

Once the joys of Sorting, Throwing Up and Bagging have been done (not to mention Redirections, Kill-Offs and Door-to-Doors) we whistle our merry way out on to the streets of your town/ village/ hamlet and get down to shoving bits of paper through your letterbox.

In Spring and Summer this is a joy as we can mooch about in our shorts, even wearing that ridiculous floppy Royal Mail fedora thing if we choose. It’s lovely weather and a great time to be out strolling in the fresh air.


Now it’s fucking winter and C.O.L.D (although that doesn’t stop Mad Marcus and Old Ron from wearing shorts).

I’m a fairly strong willed person, used to be in the RAF and have what could romantically be called a “high tolerance to pain and discomfort. However today was a day when you just think “this really is a shit fucking job!”

To make it brief these are the top reasons for my self pity and melancholy.

1). Both my work-issue Doctor Marten boots had holes in the soles meaning I had wet feet.

2). The collapsible trolley broke halfway through, meaning I had to carry the bags on my shoulders.

3). The point where I left my van was equidistant between the start and finish points of the Walk. Only problem was that they in turn were nowhere near each other.

4). Some old geezer chased me down the road yelling “OI YOU FUCKING BLIND?!!” because he got junk mail in his letterbox when he had a sign up saying ‘NO JUNK MAIL EVER!!!’ Next time it’ll be a dog turd.

5). The Proximity Alert Alarm (high pitched squeal that goes off when you reverse the van too close to a stationary object) was bollocksed, meaning it went off just through shifting into reverse.

6). No. 27 Letsby Avenue had a letterbox with the same coiled power as the Reverse Bear Trap from the SAW movies, lost the skin on two knuckles putting an Amazon packet through.

7). Woman that lived there came out to find me shouting “FUCKING CUNT!!!” and kicking my trolley while sucking my grazed knuckles.

8). Classic FM was nowhere to be found as I drove back to the depot. Without this I tend to turn green and get bigger when driving through rush hour traffic.

9). My uniform was piss wet through

10). Got my wage slip and found that they yet again had forgotten to put all my overtime on from last week.

When you start deliberately remembering the time your mother wouldn’t let you watch Star Trek when you were 8 (37 years ago) just to find a way of focusing your misery…it’s time to move on.

10 Things That Will Make Me Take Your Mail Back To The Depot (or deliver it last)


Thing 1). You own/ manage a shop. I ask you if I can use your toilet. You say no.

Thing 2). You have parked blocking your driveway completely. I cannot get up it.

Thing 3). You have a big dog in your front garden that is looking at me in a way that says “want to know if there’s life after death? Open the gate and find out!”

Thing 4). You have dog shit on your front path.

Thing 5). You once tried to get my attention by clicking your fingers or saying “Hey, you!”

Thing 6), You saw me cut across your front lawn and came out to say “that’s not a pubic footpath you know!”

Thing 7). You chased me down the street shouting “will you put my FUCKING mail all the way through the letterbox you FUCKING TWAT!!!”

Thing 8). I inadvertently put your neighbour’s mail through your letterbox. You came out and mumbled something at me. I said “pardon?” twice and you then yelled “OH, YOU’RE DEAF AS WELL!!!”

Thing 9). You let me spend 2 or so minutes manipulating a packet through your “just big enough” letter box and then opened the door and said “you could have damaged that!”

Thing 10). You have a habit of answering the door in your underwear (and you’re either a bloke or an ugly woman).

The Blue Meanies


As part of Health and Safety, posties wear orange, hi-viz waistcoats when in the loading bay, the car park, the street, or the sorting machine area (although fuck knows why on that last one). Our managers wear orange, hi-viz waistcoats with blue shoulders and the word “MANAGER” on the back.

There are roughly 200 posties at my depot, ranging in time served from 3 months to 44 years (Ernie started in 1968….scary!) There are 12 managers. Two work the night shift, and supervise a skeleton crew doing sorting only. The day managers have this hierarchy:

Supervisor– 4 of them. Responsible for an area of town and roughly 25 to 40 posties each.

Manager– 3 of them. 1 is the Supervisors’ line manager. Another is over packet delivery. The third controls supervision of the depot.

Deputy Delivery Office Manager (DDOM): The highest rank us foremast jacks can approach for  a chat, who is the deputy for….

The Delivery Office Manager (DOM): Sour faced cow who hides in her office, down the corridor near the canteen and past the 2nd training room on the East side near the overflow car park.

The managers range in ability and personality. Of the 4 Supervisors, 3 are OK and can be approached and spoken to normally, without fear of your words being taken out of context or that you’ll be bollocked for wanting to finish on time. The 4th is relatively new, took the blue after only 5 years and is a complete wankpot. Began barking at posties on his first day and has had one postman walk out because of him (came back an hour later mind, bit temperamental is old Jack). He is universally loathed and it is not uncommon to see posties scattering to the four winds if he walks into their area.

The 3 managers are arseholes, with one exception. The one over packets is a nice lady, however as her remit is office based we barely interact with her. The other two wouldn’t be out of place in Russel Crowe’s Master and Commander movie, as they expect the plebs to tug their forelocks when they walk past. Trying to get one’s attention is either frustrating or amusing, depending on your perspective.

One walked up to Ernie a few months ago as he was preparing his Walk (putting the letters in their slots in the rack).

“What are you doing?” the manager inquired, contempt dripping from every syllable.

Without turning round Ernie replied “something beyond your ability to understand. Push off and let me get on with it!”

Cue much shouting and the Union getting involved.

The Deputy DOM has that fixed smile that Tony Blair adopted around 1996 and has robotic responses to everything asked of him. He is scrupulously polite and follows protocol to the letter. Never shouts and probably would be a decent bloke if he wasn’t so uptight.

The DOM clearly hates us and the job and is desperate to get out to the quieter climes of a rural depot in a place like Puddle-on-the-Sea, about 16 miles down the road. We have been specifically told that we can’t go and see her without making an appointment with the DDOM and the only time we usually see her is in the canteen or when visiting dignitaries (managers higher than she is) visit the depot.

Overall, it seems that taking the blue makes someone into a right twat.

The Christmas Casuals


As Christmas arrives we look forward to the arrival of the Royal Mail Casuals.

These are people who come in over the festive period to help us out with the deluge of parcels, Xmas cards and Pizza Hut “2for1” flyers.

We already have a crack squad of Saturdayers, who come in on…err, Saturdays to help out due to the amount of mail and posties off sick with food poisoning or flu (read: hangovers). These are trained and have a basic grasp of how to “tie up a bundle” (work out how many letters they can hold in one hand and put two rubber bands around them), “bag up” (number the bundles and then put them in reverse order in a big, red satchel) and if they’re lucky drive a van (but not a transit as the sodding DVLA stopped automatically giving entitlement for them in about 1998).

At my depot we are fortunate to have a group of Casuals who come back every year to do the job and are reliable and trustworthy. One guy is homeless and is a complete laugh, cracking jokes and always smiling with what’s left of his teeth. Welcoming them back is like seeing relatives on Christmas Day (albeit ones you actually want to see again).

Unfortunately you get a lot of pratts, especially students who think it’s an easy doss and have no idea of the misery involved in walking miles in the freezing cold and having to remain polite when asked the same question again and again by customers (current one being “why are you so late these days?”)

One guy thieved about £60 from the cash box in the Callers Office about 4 years ago. Luckily for the other member of staff on duty at the time both her and a driver saw him do it. Without witnesses both would have been suspected and while no one would have got fired it would have meant the full time postie would have a shit time of it from Management for the rest of her time with the company.
Another female Casual was photographed by our internal police, dumping mail in a skip as the lazy little bitch couldn’t be bothered to finish. She got a custodial sentence of 3 weeks though, which brought a smile to everyone’s face except hers.

Another was caught nicking Christmas cards and taking them home to open them, presumably to try and find money as opposed to any desperate loneliness and the desire to pretend they were actually sent to him. He escaped a spell in Porridge due to loudly wailing in court about his drug habit and how he was trying to “get clean”.

This video kind of sums up how I feel.

The Scanner Squilled

Today I was walking up Ne’erdowell Terrace, adorned in a vest, company t-shirt, fleece, windcheater, scarf, thermal undies, trousers, waterproof overtrousers, two pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves…plus a woolly hat.

It was minus bastard degrees celsius and about 2/3 of the way through my shift. My Walk (what we call a postie’s area of delivery) is in one of the more horrid areas of town, populated by scumbags who think nicking mail is something the Jobcentre forced them to do for failing to find them work. As a result the trolley (bikes now a thing of a bygone era…unless you live in Angola which is where Royal Mail shipped them all to) has to be taken into the numerous blocks of flats so I don’t find the wheels missing and the smouldering, skeletal remains smelling of paraffin when I return from the pissy stench of Tulip Heights’ 19 floors.

While soldiering on at around 2pm I heard an odd noise. It was an ascending tone that echoed away at the end, and a few seconds later picked up again.

Kind of pretty.

I realised after the 3rd squill that this was coming from somewhere about my person. As my phone has the theme from Skyfall as the ringtone I was at a loss as to what it was. Unzipping the 3 separate zips I grummaged around the humid internal pockets of the fleece to retrieve my scanner which was making the odd noise.



Staring at the screen a message was on it stating “incoming call.”

Somewhat scared I looked at the buttons and lo and behold there was a phone icon on one of them. Pushing it I raised the scanner to my icy ear. 


“Err…hello is Gloria there?” said a very geriatric voice.

“Sorry think you’ve got a wrong number my love. This is a postman’s parcel scanner you’ve phoned.”

A long pause.

“John, stop being silly. Put Gloria on!” she croaked a bit on the last couple of syllables.

“Like I told you love, you’ve got a wrong number. I’m a postie, you’ve called my packet scanner!

Another long pause…then.

“Oh very funny! You like taking the piss out of me don’t you John, YOU LITTLE SHIT! *CLICK!!!*

Turns out the scanner has a Sim card in it, that I wasn’t trained on the presence of, never mind the usage of. Concerned the local chavs would mistake the scanner for a smartphone and mug me for it, I put it back in the folds of my onion-esque layers and carried on. Only witnesses to this rather odd conversation were two teenage girls in tiny skirts and crop tops, smoking fags outside no. 27. Least someone’s mum doesn’t let them stink up the house with nicotine, even if she does let them dress like tarts when it’s below zero. 

Hope they had knickers on.


One Hand In The Dyke



Around Christmas time the Royal Mail’s customers like to do the traditional Christmassy things like send each other cards and order presents via Amazon, Ebay and the online versions of shops like Boots and WH Smiths.

This means that from the end of November to about the first week of January, the depot looks like Santa went on strike and dumped the prezzies on us.

Our boss is a grouchy lady at the best of times (quite fitting that the acronym of her job is DOM, but it’s short for Delivery Office Manager and has nothing to do with leather knickers and whips). She took over in March after being transferred from the leafy suburbs of a level 4 depot in a quiet town elsewhere in the county. Her office is next to the Callers’ Office (where the public queue in the rain to get their stuff coz they weren’t in when the postie called). Well, at least it WAS as she’s now shifted it and taken up residence in a former meeting room deep in the labyrinthine corridors that make up our depot, far away from the foremast jacks.

She is now unbothered by the piles and piles of parcels that breach numerous fire safety, health and safety and environmental health rules but at least we can now stick some of the overflow into her old office and try, like the little boy with his hand in the dyke, to keep the wall from crashing down around us.

Yesterday the supervisors forgot to rota someone on to relieve the bloke in the callers’ office meaning he was red faced and spitting venom when no one turned up to take over at 2pm. Instead of doing what I’d have done which is to simply lock the door and leave, he stayed on, dealing with a public who seem to think that we are all clones of the same postman and on top of that are one hive mind and know exactly why their postie didn’t knock/ ripped the parcel/ upset their dog.

If the public could actually see what happens to their packets they probably would regard DHL as a more expensive but safer option. Stuff is left in containers for up to 24 hours, unable to be dealt with as there aren’t enough staff to do it. In a perfect world you’d have a couple of guys doing tag team fetching parcels. Another booking in the packets and a fourth squaring things up. However the targets we are obliged to meet are from DELIVERY not from collection. So the priority is getting posties out on the streets and that’s why if you want your packet that the postie took back to the depot…then turn up at 7.30am to avoid the queue and leave it at least 24 hours from when you got the “While You Were Out” card.


*And just so you know. I do feel guilty about the 12p surcharge on your bedridden, 74 year old wife’s birthday card BUT blame whoever sent it, not me. Also this money does not go to my pension.