Sunday 10 March 2024

March thoughts

InCoWriMo and LetterMo are over for another year, and March is a month of replies. However, with the announcement at the start of the month from Royal Mail raising postage rates in April, I have found my enthusiasm for all things postal has diminished (including for the snail mail forum I run). I knew the postage rate increase was coming, but didn’t think it would be an extra 10p domestically, an extra 20p international economy (can't use for letters to Europe), and 30p extra for international standard: huge increases. I know it isn’t much in the great scheme of things, and can afford it financially, but even so… How much money do you spend a month on hobbies?  Some people like to fishing, hillwalking - may have a largish outlay at the start; good quality board games can cost quite a bit (£50 or more, e.g. Power Grid, Agricola, Talisman, and then there’s the expansions); a weekly or even daily cup of fancy coffee from a large coffee shop chain costs (£3+)…. so snail mail doesn’t seem that expensive, and if it comes to it, can buy postage only when it is needed, and no need for expensive stationery (£30 letter writing set with 10 sheets of A5 + 10 C6 envelopes one stationer's sells is taking the biscuit).

It is heart-breaking what Royal Mail are doing to a long-time appreciated institution with its micromanagement of the posties, tracking them, complaining when they are idle (perhaps on the mandated breaks). The regular posties were almost social workers during the pandemic on rural routes may have been the only face some folks would have seen. La Poste even offered a service to check in on people, albeit for a fee. A regular postie is very much part of the community. A while back, had someone’s pet rabbit escape into my garden, and the postie knew whose bunny it was. Perhaps I feel betrayed by Royal Mail, yet I am reliant on them for this hobby - no choice is available; I will not do email. 

Picture of a bunny rabbit

I haven’t kept up the pace of daily letter writing I managed in February. I will respond to all the surprise letters I received through the February projects, and will probably have replied to all the letters received in February before the postage rate rise immediately after the Easter bank holiday.

As for the forum, it is still quiet. This July will have been running for 9 years, but it hasn't turned out how I imagined: I wanted a forum full of discussions on all-sorts of snail mail issues, plus it is something off Facebook (can't read my "feed" most days without some sort of scam/fake but paid-for accounts posting things) and Instagram (the one-upmanship, look how fancy "this" is, and the disregard for other people's privacy by not-covering/obscuring the other person's address). I want the forum to remain free (money complicates things), and available to "all" (in quotation marks, because there are those who post forum spam, and those accounts get deleted). I know it is somewhat ironic to have all this online, for an offline hobby.

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