The news today had something of a Harry Potter’s mysterious railway platform eleven-and-a-half air about it when we were learned that builders working on the renovation of Birmingham New Street Station had found dust-covered letters dating back to 1989 when they removed a post-box last week.
Workers say they cannot understand how the letters escaped the notice of postmen since it was in full view of the thousands of travellers passing by for more than two decades; some even using the box until it was sealed earlier this year after rail commuters complained about catching their fingers in the narrow flap, and an “out of action” sign was hung across it – well, what do you know?
Royal Mail claims it’s trying to deliver the letters to their rightful destinations – at last. Officials say they can’t understand why the postage was not collected. Where were the checks and follow-ups by those paid to do such things? One postal worker said: “We didn’t know it was there!…It was unbelievable to find the thing stuffed with old letters.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “For security reasons many mailboxes have been removed from stations…but it seems the post in this one was simply missed…There were letters meant for Australia and America, and postcards to people’s friends and family, just lying in there, under a thick layer of dust.”
Another railway spokesman said: “We couldn’t believe it would be missed by anyone. But with the greatest will in the world we’re not in the mail delivery business.”
Royal Mail officials were also baffled by the discovery and said they would try to get the post to the rightful addresses. A spokesman said: “We wouldn’t seal the box with letters still in it…we believe customers continued to post letters, oblivious to the fact it was not being emptied.”
Somewhere I hear the strains of Flanders and Swan singing, ‘It all makes work for the working man to do…’ while everyone claims, ‘It wasn’t my fault guv…it wasn’t my job…’
it brings to mind another story; that of four year-old Jasmine who wrote a message to her aunt, popped it into a bottle, and dropped the bottle into the water at the end Bournemouth Pier, Dorset while on a family holiday at Bournemouth, hoping it would reach her aunt who lives on Guernsey, in the Channel Islands. Five months later the family were amazed when a letter arrived at their home in Tamworth, Staffordshire, which read: “Dear Jasmine, as fate would have it we have been introduced to each other by your message in a bottle”.The bottle had been found 10,000 miles away in Largs Bay in South Australia by grandmother Barbara Richards as she walked along the beach collecting shells with her brother.
Now that is a marathon journey; in future, we’ll know what to do if we want to make sure our mail actually arrives.