Sounding The Last Post?

News that the price of a “first” class postage stamp is going up from 46 pence to 60 pence has shocked many people. The thought persists that this is a means of “fattening up” the Royal Mail to make it more attractive for Privatisation. Governments have always held a monopoly on the mail…….originally in seventeenth century England………as a counter against treason, conspiracy and espionage. In more benign times, it has always been assumed that a regulated postal system is a force for social good. The real cost of delivering a letter from (say) rural Wales to a small island off the Scottish coast is much greater than the delivery of a letter from one major London bank to another.

It has been deemed that the “Social Cost” of paying (say) 10 pence to post a letter within London and paying (say) £1 to post the same letter to Scotland would be simply too high. I am not sure that a privatised Post Office would take the same view.

Yet mail priced “realistically” at 60 pence is a culture shock. To make a comparison 60 pence is (in old currency) twelve shillings or 120 “old” pennies. But the first British postage stamp was the Penny Black………so thats a mark up of 120 times the original price.

To make the comparison with the Edwardian era……….say 1908………it still cost just one penny to send a letter. People like myself who wander around Postcard Fairs will notice that there are still (literally) millions of Edwardian postcards out there. Postcards were actually the social media of their day. And the messages on postcards are often very interesting. Postcards and Facebook have a lot in common.

As I recall in the 1960s, my mother used to write letters to her sisters. We got letters and Christmas cards. But do we really get REAL letters now?……..letters that are not bank statements? I cannot remember when I last got a letter. And as I get older, I get fewer Christmas cards.

Social media………..has a lot to answer for.

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