Today our postman retired and the estate went out of its way to let him know he will be greatly missed. Of course letters and parcels will continue to be delivered, along with the reams of fliers and tat he was unstintingly scathing about, but it’s unlikely our replacement regular postie will fill Dave’s well-worn shoes anytime soon. More than a postman, Dave was our ‘village pump’. A cheeky chappie, short, bespectacled and ever dapper (it had to be sub-tropical before Dave would contemplate wearing shorts), he always had time for a chat on the doorstep or street and undoubtably knew more about what was going off in the hood than any resident. More than once he had raised the alarm, most notably when one of our elderly neighbours took a tumble downstairs. Through the slit of her letterbox, he had seen her tangled legs and called an ambulance, sadly too late.
Dave was a committed Labour man, a staunch unionist and humanitarian never short of a scathing but witty comment about the life and times of the Big Bad World. He hated Margaret Thatcher with a passion, saw through Theresa May long before she made it into Downing Street, and could barely contain himself when Her Majesty’s Royal Mail was finally privatised. His thoughts on Brexit and Trump were heavily laced with expletives, the only time I think I ever heard him swear. Aside from his family, I think his great joy was reading, particularly ‘old stuff’. He had an soft spot for Jerome K. Jerome. What he hated was decorating, something his wife generally had lined up for him on his time off.
One day I gave Dave a pedometer to measure his daily stomp. Rounded down, it measured 7.5 miles. In the 18 years he serviced the estate, Dave walked roughly 32,400 miles up and down our streets, from and to the depot. That’s the equivalent of 1.3 times round the circumference of the globe!
On the day he retired, at a gathering of well-wishers round the postbox outside my house, one of my neighbours told me he had a pal who was now a postie and suffering. Every evening after work, all he wanted was to go to bed, and he wasn’t sure he could stomach the job much longer. He was twenty years younger than Dave and had been in the job for six months. I think our estate was a second home for Dave and a refuge from rollers and wallpaper paste.
The retirement of a professional Nott’m walker was a good time to start this walking blog, something I’ve been meaning to do for years. Thanks for the inducement, Dave.