Sometime back in the day, in the early sixties, my old mum used to bundle up three or four weeks worth of Sunday Post papers (that's about 3 or 4 papers I guess) and wrap them in brown paper and take them to the Post Office where they'd be sent off to Tasmania. My mum had an old friend in Tasmania she said, but they never wrote to each other, never visited nor telephoned. It struck me as a strange relationship and one I couldn't understand and still don't. It was as if my mum had taken on some obligation, possibly after the war when folks were moving all over the place, to provide these papers to somebody who maybe wasn't really much of a friend or all that interesting, anyway she did it faithfully just the same.
By return we'd get a single Christmas Card type "Tasmanian Photo" calendar every year, hardly fair exchange in my view, one calendar featuring numerous photos of the Hobart Bridge for fifty two used Sunday Posts. Not a good deal. Still the Sunday Post was my first proper paper to read, filled will prim, parochial and superficial stories and opinions, some news, some kirk propaganda, some sport and of course the Broons and Oor Wullie. It was a strange old fashioned beast in those days, it may be still, I've hardly seen one in years. It almost smelt of a care home or an old lady's sitting room.
Anyway the practice of sending the Post ceased one fine day. A cousin of the lady recipient wrote to say she'd passed away a few months ago, no need to send copies anymore, the dead don't read. And that was that. No hording the papers, no brown paper, no calendar at Christmas. I imagined a huge pile of papers sitting there by her cold fireside in Tasmania, who would claim them now?
A subtle change had taken place, that paper, with all it's tittle tattle and homespun wisdom suddenly seemed less meaningful. It still came into the house but now it was bundled with the other papers, the Daily Express and the Sunday People, they were rough and shouty, hardly appropriate bin fellows. I just read the centre page comics now, I seldom laughed at them but I studied the characters and the way the strip moved along. I liked the black and white inking and the brutal little Scottish world they exposed. Dudley D Watkins became a kind of quiet hero, one you wouldn't ever brag about. But as for the copies of paper itself, no more international travel across the wide world, sending it's news and sports results to Tasmania a month or two late for some ex-Pat to snooze over. No more backwards time travel or over a blue ocean in a mail sack to an upside down island, no secondhand news, it was over.
|The Sunday Post, as right on as ever.|