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1No More Josephs, Thank You


In a one-man band, everybody plays piano. And in a one-man business, everybody does the post run: which is why I’m striding out across our village green, carrying the weekly bundle of mail to the local post office.

“Looks like you bin busy, Timothy Melrose!” our Post Mistress remarks. Don’t be fooled for a moment. First-Class Freda isn’t complimenting me on my work rate. Far from it: she just wants to see who I’ve been writing to.

“All a part of the daily grind,” and I drop the letters on her counter.

Freda takes each envelope in turn, weighs it carefully, and then stamps it with a resounding thump. We are now at package number eight. “Had a cousin, once,” Freda tells me. “She wrote letters – almost every Christmas.”

“Always nice to get a letter,” I smile back and make a note to keep that gem on ice until my next job-seek interview.

“Even better when they come by first class post,” Freda reminds me.

And that’s why we call her First-Class Freda. Ages back, when we first set up shop in Ashiestiel Green, Freda had refused to sell me a second-class stamp. “Old Jim won’t pedal up to Paddy’s place for peanuts,” she had told me in her distinctive Cornish drawl. “First class only, thank you,” as if a less-expensive stamp might have downgraded Old Jimmy’s professional status.

Mind you, in all our time round here, I’ve yet to come across anyone called Paddy or any sign on any gatepost that might suggest where he’s living. But does it matter? With our Freda, it’s a first class stamp or nothing.

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