the village postman
BOB gets up at 4.30am and spends the next eight hours driving around country lanes and farm tracks in his van, whistling along to the radio. He even gets out from time to time – mostly to call into peoples kitchens for a cuppa although he does deliver the occasional letter.
Hes got regular refreshment stops. He stops with Jeff at 5.30 just before he starts milking, at Harolds at 7.10 as hes unlocking the farm workshop and at Bettys Bakery for tea and a bun at 10am.
Between 10am and getting back to the depot, most of his stops are to attend the call of nature. Bob, like a badger, has his favourite spots for this.
The residents love him. Hes so cheerful, so friendly. Always got time to stop for a chat. Always makes sure the parcels are delivered undamaged, the letters uncreased.
He closes gates and rings the farmer up if he sees a dead sheep. Hell lend a hand if a cows escaped and needs rounding up. He feeds the cats for Mrs Baraclough when she goes away to her daughter for the weekend.
Hes even been known to get up a ladder and replace a tile for the widow – and local gossip is that its not all hes replaced for her.
Even the dogs like Bob. Hounds that otherwise go straight for the jugular sidle up to him and rub against his legs, their tales wagging. That scatty spaniel at the Jenkinss place has even stopped cocking its leg against his van now.
"Get away, thats Post Office property," he used to yell at the small, embarrassingly balanced animal as it went about its business.
Bobs been doing this job for 10 years now, ever since he came out of the services. The pays OK, not brilliant. And you should see the tips at Christmas – not just money, but food and booze too. The widow gave him a bottle of expensive whisky. "Hes been delivering more there than letters to her," they said in The Wheatsheaf.
He knows the route inside out. He could do it in his sleep. Which is just as well because he sometimes does it in his sleep – after a late night. A late night, for Bob, means 9pm.
"Whats it like having to get up in the middle of the night," people always ask him.
"Never mind that," he replies, "Im finished by 2pm – all the afternoon is mine." But thats academic. He never does anything in the afternoon except go fishing.
"I pulled a 20-pounder out of mill pond on Friday," he tells everyone he meets on his round. One or two of them are even interested in fishing. "You should have seen it fight," he says. "Put the kettle on and Ill tell you about it."