LAST POST (OFFICE?)
Post offices remain under threat throughout Scotland and around us we have already lost a number over the past few years. Someone had been willing to reopen the Paxton sub post office but was refused permission as it was 'too near Hutton' Now Allanton has gone and ours, in the Village Hall, carries on two days a week but under constant threat of the chop. Perhaps some of the bloggees will not know that the Old Manse once housed the post office. When we arrived in 1997 we were persuaded to take it on (having been run by the former owners)-involved the use of the kitchen table, Mondays and Thursdays 9-1. Our young lodger ran it although Huttonian was the 'owner'(and had an official badge to prove it) Then came computerisation and our lodger departed with the PO computer moving 15 feet or so into the 'Milk room' off the kitchen and run by a neighbour. She eventually got fed up with the awesomely Byzantine, impersonal Post Office bureaucracy(and unreliable on line help line) and the Old Manse was abandoned and it is now in the Village Hall with slightly reduced hours but with an increased clientele including at least one regular customer from distant Paxton (2.2 miles to The Cross)We had about 17 pensioners, the odd stamp sale, a bus pass or two and that was about it.
The poem below, published in the Eildon Tree magazine, conveys the atmosphere of the late 90s up Kirk Lane. I hasten to add that the personalties referred to are based on imaginary figments rather than any real people, alive-or by now, dead.COMMUNITY POST OFFICE
Up the pock-marked lane,
harassed by nettles and bombarded
by the odd petulant butterfly
they come. Singly, spaced out.
Mondays usually. Our pensioners.
A hardy (but dwindling) band
Homing in on the kitchen table
just cleared of cornflakes
and the smudges of marmalade
Where the cash awaits a second
opinion. Not quite trusting
the nimble fingers
of the young Post Mistress.
Rheumy eyes follow each crisp note
slapped on the table
silently mouthing the mounting value
A wordless nod, a snap of the handbag
like a startled rabbit.
Some coins reluctantly
returned for a second class stamp
(these are careful Border folk)
Before relaxing into
first class gossip.
Or a weather forecast.
Or a pill by pill
no bowel unturned.
Ping of the bell
Another customer thresholds
So time to go, ritual completed.
‘See you next Monday. Same time
You can bet your last
first class stamp,
The image shows the cutting edge of PO technology in the late 1990s early noughties. 2nd class stamp 19p so not so long ago. We were kindly allowed to keep this as a token of the POs appreciation and they have now moved on to a more advanced version in Huttpn Hall
Labels: Hutton, Old Manse, Post Office