Saturday, 21 May 2016

Crucial Childhood Questions #2: What's with all the Postman Pat impressions?

What is the link between Pat, an elephant and a donkey?

When I grow up I want to...
...work for Royal Mail. At least that's how it seems sometimes. Letterboxes are an irresistible magnet for little people who've just found their feet. They're great for sticking your hand through and they're even better for putting your toys through. Toys make such a lovely rattling noise when they fall onto the tiles outside. Sometimes, when toys aren't available, or just aren't interesting enough, you could post other items out of the letterbox instead; anything fairly small and flat enough will do. I believe that some people have a cage suspended under the letterbox inside the door to catch the post as it's pushed through. I reckon we'd be better off with a cage outside our door to catch the items that are posted out. As it is, they end up strewn along the front path. The effect can sometimes be quite interesting. More than once the real, authentic Royal Mail man has arrived at our address to find a tasty but totally inedible breakfast of plastic play food waiting for him on our front doorstep and I marvel sometimes at just how far pieces of Duplo can travel once they've been ejected from within.

What are the alternatives?
If you get bored of playing with the letterbox there is no shortage of other ways to keep your hand in. How about transferring shoes from the shoe rack over the stair gate onto the kitchen floor, for example?
So that's what they mean by 'boots on the ground'.

Or, even better, pushing things over the fire guard into the coal scuttle. This is particularly good fun during the Winter months. We have a small log burner in the lounge with an open-topped coal scuttle stood nearby. Coal is great for helping to eke out the supply of wood but occasionally other, less flammable, items find their way into the coal as well. There was the plastic donkey that dropped into the scuttle unnoticed and then went into the fire, for example. We recovered him as soon as we could but the little fellow now has permanently misshapen ears as a memento of his escapade. He was fortunate: a Duplo elephant, that went the same way a few days later, less so. Roasted, rescued, rejected and out with the rubbish was the dreadful fate of poor Nellie.

Why do they do it?
Why, oh tell me why? In truth I cannot tell. Maybe 'tis the melodious thud of the posted object clattering on the solid ground below? Perhaps the indescribable joy of sending a loved artefact on a journey - we know not whither - maybe never to be seen again? An infant's curiosity; a stripling's thirst to learn. Ay, learn we know not what, but learn we must be e'er the price so high. Shall I ever see my Matchbox car again? Or is he even now driving new roads of adventure and delight? Will he one day return garlanded with grass cuttings, scratched and dented by the unsuspecting mower?
And if I yell loudly enough will Daddy get him back again? Oh, I think so.

Excuse me, I lost myself there for a moment...       

What should I do about it?
Shouting, threats and intreaties generally prove fairly to utterly pointless. Treatment can be left to Time, otherwise known as 'when they get bored of it'. Other remedies are more simple. Open the front door every night before you go to bed and pick up anything lying outside, make sure you don't leave anything breakable that is also postable lying around and always check inside the coal scuttle before shooting the contents onto the fire. Follow these few simple rules, wait for the other symptoms to pass off and all will yet be well. Maybe you could even make an arrangement with your local postie to return anything he finds on the doormat when he delivers your mail?

Thank you
...for taking the time to read this article. For those of you who are interested Postman Pat is available on the BBC, BBC iplayer and on YouTube. Do not, on any account, allow your mini mailman to watch it with you.

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