Monday, 11 June 2018

Postally used stamp re-usage is fraud.

One of the things about penpalling/snail mail is that it can be an expensive hobby: postage is not cheap. However, in one penpal group on Facebook, someone is showing off her outgoing mail with postally used stamps as postage. She claims Mr Grumpy, shown below, is a brand new stamp.
 She is very much mistaken as the mark on the top left corner of the stamp is from a first day issue postmark (Mr. Tickle).

She also says she buys stamps off ebay. Shown below, this was the first picture of hers I noticed on the group.
You can clearly see postmarks. Nice for a stamp collection or for decorating letters/scrapbooking, but no, she uses them for postage. One of the group's moderators agreed they were postmarked and that it would be fraud to reuse them for postage.

She didn't listen.
The pear from the tasty stamp issue is on the top envelope and could well be the same stamp in that all used stamps picture. The same first day issue postmark is also visible on the two Mr Men stamps. In the thread discussion, she says:

Further investigation into her posts in the group reveal another visibly, but faintly, postmarked stamp across the bottom part of the neck by the 1st indicator..
I can perhaps forgive a one-off mistake, but this is ongoing. 

The black scrub-out is mine as I don't want to show the names of the unfortunate recipients who may have to pay the surcharge for the sender's criminal behaviour.

Royal Mail's postal fraud online form isn't particularly helpful in this instance.

On the incoming front, yesterday, I received a letter from the US - the stamp had sticky tape on. You might just be able to see the different colour paper underneath the stamp on top of the envelope.
 I peeled the tape from the envelope and revealed this - it had been used. The angle of the photo doesn't do the gold paper justice - looks like it is from an envelope to go with a greetings card.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Friday the First. Thought for the month.

I grew up in London, experiencing racism and bullying in school. I was called Paki more often than British. As far as I know, I have no Pakistani ancestry. I am not a Paki; Hercule Poirot isn't French. 

I have moved on from London and away. I am still seen as foreign but this time, I am either seen as an Italian or Greek woman. I don't feel as cross or feel this is as hurtful as being called Paki.

Being different, some people do not know what to say. Some, on seeing people of colour or different ethnicity would ignore them, at worst cross the road to the other side, refuse to make eye contact if on public transport with no escape until the next station or bus stop. If words are spoke, these are sometimes questions asking, "where are you from?" or, "when are you going home?" I had to pay a bill and did so over the counter at my bank. The bank teller was a lovely lady just like me, of mixed race. Her parents met at university as foreign students in the next town. She was born there. She has been asked those questions, and on one occasion, her manager heard and intervened. "OK, she's from the next town," the manager said in a jokey voice as there can be a bit of local rivalry, before admonishing the customer's attitude. 

I like letter writing because you don't start with stereotypes and prejudice from seeing someone's face. Some people can be put off by what they see (tattoos and even piercings, as well as colour). I think perhaps we all do to some extent but letter writing allows me to get over that hurdle, to allow words with thoughtfulness to come flowing out of the pen, in my own time. It doesn't matter if my written conversation partner is at work, asleep or doing other things, for I will not be disturbing them. They will read the letter when they are ready to, perhaps when I am asleep myself. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

My Postcrossing anniversary - my 10th.

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of me joining Postcrossing. I joined because I wasn't getting replies from people I had written to via various penpalling sites. Many profiles there mentioned Postcrossing so I got curious. I sent postcards, always trying to keep my full allowance going. I joined their forums and participated in many Round Robins, as well as starting a couple of my own RRs. I was sending loads of postcards every month. I even joined the big monthly RR. I think what got me was when Royal Mail hiked up postage from 68p to 87p. I felt betrayed, I still do, and postage is now £1.25. When I started, I think postage was 50p to Europe.  I was in the top 10 UK Postcrossers, however, with last actively sending about 4 years ago, I slipped down the rankings. I did send a few postcards out last year, not many.

So, in celebration, I wrote 24 postcards (not my full allowance) yesterday. Some caught yesterday's collection, and some went today.
 I will always be fond of this site, the idea to connect people around the world via the simple postcard, in a time of digital communication. However, I still prefer correspondence via letter than postcards, although I do like postcards. 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

On letterwriting, etiquette

I have so far been using the initial of my first name, M, wax seal to close my envelopes. However, is it proper? Should I be using my surname (my married name)? This question has led me to etiquette, tradition, good form written in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  The answer is that I should use the initial of his surname. The initial of my first name never changes, but the surname might and already has. So, I am content to use M. How many of you when telephoning someone, say, "It's me!" ? 

However, what is good form way back when seems to me to be artificial and inequal. There are rules. Who came up with them? There are ways to address the envelope. It is not etiquette to use Mr for a gentleman, but for tradesmen & mechanics. I rarely use titles, though if I am writing to someone who has a PhD, or is a doctor of medicine, I have used the form Dr to them. I won't address the envelope to a married woman as Mrs [her husbands's initial] [husband's surname]. There are still a few people around who say that the woman is property of the husband. Although I have taken my husband's surname, I still identify with my first name, and its initial. Forum posts sometimes have me signing off with this initial. 

Perhaps these rules constrain the feeling of the word/letter, the individuality and uniqueness of each correspondence, the creativity; emotions weren't to be shown, stiff upper lip. I hope my written letters have character and soul to them. I want them to bring a smile upon the recipient's face, and joy. 

Some of rules of antiquated social letter writing, taken from Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton's book in the Good Form series, "Letter-Writing Its Ethics and Etiquette with Remarks on the Proper Use of Monograms, Crests, and Seals" (1890) I break are:

  • Lined papers must never be used for social correspondence, they are extremely bad form.
  • There was a local fashion, some time ago, to use violet ink, but colored inks are never correct

  • Using papers other than cream or white in colour

  • Using anything other than the initial of my husband's surname (or crest if he had one) as a wax seal. 
  • The use of wax in colours other than red or black.

Thursday, 12 April 2018


 I wanted to say something but lost my train of thought. Distractions at the moment are more frequent than before, so I am behind on replying to letters. Oh well, part of life having to deal with surprises and things you hope will be later rather than sooner.

Anyway, back to the letter writing I must go.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

InCoWriMo-2018 roundup

InCoWriMo-2018 has been a success in my eyes. I managed to write at least one letter a day. I wrote to 30 new victims, receiving 3 replies before the month was out and a further 11 replies in the first half of March. February saw me being chosen as a victim by 13 people. A further 2 surprises arrived in the first half of March. I also continued to correspond with existing penpals, writing 20 replies and receiving 23 letters (excluding postcards). I was able to use wax seals for most of my outgoing mail too. 

It was a successful month although I was unexpectedly away from home for almost all of the month (I was expecting to be away for only a week or so). I did miss receiving post on a daily basis, but my family at home kept me informed of my incoming mail.

Now I play catch up as I will reply to all the InCoWriMo-2018 post I received, as well as replying to my existing penpals. I have almost 40 letters in my to-reply-to pile.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Final week of InCoWriMo

InCoWriMo-2018 is in full swing and the surprise letters are coming in. Some have made me laugh out loud; some give insights into other people's lives.

I have been chosen because I live in Wales (the sender has connections with Wales) or because I mentioned a shared hobby in the comments.

I have chosen a few by keyword search as well as via hobbies and interests mentioned in the comments or Instagram profile.

I have received my first reply from a surprise, but I have also received a surprise from someone I wrote to however the letters crossed each other on their postal journey.

I have visited family this month so I have had the opportunity to feed different postboxes, much to the neglect of my local boxes. However, I have been using some Post Awyr / Post Brenhinol / Par Avion labels on my overseas letters from England!

I bought more letter writing supplies, including paper and wax seals. I need to write more letters then I can allow myself to buy more paper!