Thursday, 26 January 2012

'Night Mail'

'This is the night mail crossing the border,
bringing the cheque and the postal order.....'

Auden's poem is still exciting to listen to, with its rhythm of the train diddle-de-dotting over the rails and the men and women sorting through the mail as it goes over the border into Scotland ready for delivery the next morning. Someone read it at our Poetry afternoon. It is a lovely poem to read out, with its fantastic rhythm.

Is it just my age or does everyone wish they still received 'ordinary' letters? Yes, e mails are superb with their instant queries and instant replies. If I wish to know whether my niece can come to stay I can e mail her with dates and get a reply within five minutes. But nothing quite replaces that feeling of excitement when the plop on the mat means a letter.

You pick up the letter, you recognise the handwriting, you put the letter to one side until coffee time, make a coffee, get a biscuit, sit down and savour several pages of news from a friend or relation.

Cheques are almost extinct, I think Postal Orders already are. I don't expect there is even a night mail train any more. Does anyone know whether there is or not?

My mail has just this moment arrived, so I shall go and pick it up and review it for you.
1. A letter about a Cancer Campaign in my area. This is marked 'For Private Business use only. Recorded correspondence. I have a charity which I support each Christmas. One year it was cancer research, so every few weeks I get a letter asking for more. I am afraid this does not encourage me to give them my support.
2. A letter from my Private Health Insurance company. This is the third letter that I have received saying exactly the same thing. I can only assume they have me three times on their data base.
3. A third letter from the same source for the farmer.
4. A letter from the tax office for the farmer (I know where it is from from the back of the envelope, I don't open his mail!)
5. A letter from my bank confirming a standing order - which had already been confirmed verbally.
6. One unsolicited catalogue for silk flowers. (Often there are half a dozen such catalogues)

Of those letters only two are even necessary. Assuming this is the kind of thing delivered to most households, one wonders at the senseless number of trees felled to make the paper used,

I know we cannot stop progress but how I would love to get just one letter to sit and open over my coffee. I might even break my keeping weight off rule and have a biscuit as well.


mrsnesbitt said...

What a poem!
Yes - junk mail - keeps the Rayburn lit! lol!
Denise xxxx

Tom Stephenson said...

That poem - like Longfellow's 'Hiawatha' - needs to be listened to for the full effect, doesn't it?

Bovey Belle said...

A favourite poem of mine too.

As for the post - I still have the occasional "snail mail" letter and love to sit down quietly and read and enjoy it. I used to have a lot of penpals, but those have lessened over the years, or we keep in touch via e-mail. I wrote long letters to two friends this week, so can look forward to replies in due course I can afford this correspondence for the time being - in fact, it's almost cheaper to send letters abroad by air mail than it is to post internally . . . I have started writing on air mail paper to friends in UK!!!

As for the "crap mail", it annoys me too. I probably won't be sending Christmas Cards in future as the cost of 2nd class stamps is to soar to 50p a time from April. One has to draw a line somewhere, and with finances very tight, I shall start there.

Elisabeth said...

I'm a letter writer and a letter lover, too Weaver. And these days most of the letters I receive are bills or junk except for the letters from a friend and correspondent. We both write letters snail mail, but otherwise the letter box does not offer up its gold as it once did.

George said...

Yes, to everything you say, Pat. One does long for those days in which a well-written, hand-written letter became a treasure worth keeping. Today's mail is largely rubbish, and it's frustrating to search through it daily just to retrieve the odd correspondence that may be important. While in South Carolina for the winter, I only receive mail once every seven to ten days. You would be surprised by how much more peaceful the days are when one receives no mail.

steven said...

i get one amazing letter a year from my beautiful godmother in elsecar. it's the only handwritten (on that lovely fine blue paper) letter i get. so i treasure it . . . . . steven

rkbsnana said...

How very true. Your mail sounds like mine. No one EVER sends a letter. It is sad. We used to look forward to letters from my OKC Grandma

Heather said...

I love receiving letters too Pat and have two or three pen friends - it is always good to catch up with their news.
Our post consists mainly of junk mail, unwanted catalogues and charity letters. Those charities who pester get short shrift from my husband!
I love Auden's poem but can't help as to whether there is still a night mail train.

Mac n' Janet said...

My husband has a lovely 2nd cousin who has never joined the electronic age and so we receive handwritten cards and letters from her, and oh my, what beautiful penmanship she has!

Crafty Green Poet said...

My parents still write real letters to me and I write real letters in return (My Dad has an email account but refuses to use it). I have a couple of friends who still write real letters too. i agree, it makes such a difference to pick up paper and read a friendly message on it. i hate junk mail too.

MorningAJ said...

Maybe it's me - but I love getting a nice long email from a friend (which is how most of my old penpals and I communicate these days). I get just as happy at the prospect of reading one of them over tea and biscuits as I used to with letters. And blogging adds even more to my fun. It feels to me like I've had lots of letters from friends.

Rachel Phillips said...

The Night Mail train, a sorting office on the tracks, no longer exists. I recall this happening a few years ago.

Auden's poem is one of my all time favourites.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sorry that night mail no longer goes up and down to Scotland. I do agree that the choice of what poems to take would change from day to day - depending upon one's mood. Thank you for joining in.

John Going Gently said...

I morn not having letters anymore.... the nearest I get to the excitement of envelope the yearly treat of christmas cards

H said...

It's a wonderful poem! A few years ago, I found a black and white video of the 'Night Mail' and played it in school to my class. They were quite caught up in the rhythms and also in the idea of a train charging up the country in the darkness, carrying the letters to Scotland.

As for junk mail, don't get me started!!

Pondside said...

I love to get a real letter once in a while too. Two years ago I entered a little letter-writing exchange at French Village Life blog. I was to exchange with a blogger in Georgia, USA. We never stopped writing to one another and I love it. There really isn't anything quite like a letter and a cup of coffee, and then a re-read.

Mo said...

Hi! Found my way here from Lovely Greens, but also note your Blog from mesnesbitt too!
I miss snail mail and I love writing letters.

Mary said...

I don't hear a plop, no front door mail slot - we have the mailbox on a post at the bottom of the drive! I usually see the mail truck pull up - he/she comes late, around 4 PM - we are at the end of the line I guess.

I miss seeing an airmail envelope in the box - it was something almost bi-weekly when I still had my mum! Nobody writes much now - all e-mails without a pretty stamp!

We get far too much junk mail - and the charities requesting donations have now become a nuisance. If you give to one they sell your name and then you start hearing from several more.

Happy weekend in lovely Yorkshire.
Hugs - Mary

Dave King said...

Strange, I was watching a recording of the original film the other day. I've seen it many times in school - a great favourite there - and recorded it a bit back in a fit of nostalgia.

To take up your point: yesterday we had two mail order catalogues (neither asked for or wanted) and two fliers for local pizza houses. I'm afraid we have to make do with texts and emails these days. (OOOH, you could mistake me for a grumpy oldun, couldn't you?)

BilboWaggins said...

Clackety-clack, across the tracks.

Pat, I shall be "hearing" Auden's poem all day now!

I too love 'proper' letters but never receive them these days, email is a blessing and a curse. I do, however, make a point of sending cards whenever the occasion befits. Always a 'thank you' after a meal out, real birthday cards [oh, how I hate those email cards], always a proper condolences card.

The neighbour whom I taught earlier this week came by this morning with her completed basket and a 'thank you' card. Such a lovely gesture, I shall keep the card for weeks and I know talking to others that the few cards I have reason to send are much appreciated when they arrive.

Future generations will miss out - how many of us have a box of faded letters and cards tucked away which are part of our history. Emails will disappear in the ether.

Interesting to read B/Belle's information about postage rates - yes, that will certainly be the death-knell for many.

BilboWaggins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BilboWaggins said...

Sorry guys, commented on wrong post :{