Tag Archives: post office

Christmas Cards. The Good, the Bad an th’ Ugly…

19 Dec

At the end of November, I decided not to send Xmas cards. This was for a number of  reasons:

1) I have 275 people on my list. When taking into account sheer costs of purchasing cards this amount to £23.37

2) Add to this some 55 UK 2nd class stamps (£28.60) and 32 overseas airmailed cards (£70.40) and the running total amounts to £122.37

3) Include the amount of time that I miss out on work-wise whilst doing scribbling, sorting and posting cards. I shall use a standard -rate for ‘consultancy hours’ of £35 per hour.  So, 275 cards x (@ 2 mins per card) = 550 mins (9 hours.) Add time spent at post office (20 mins) and we have some 9 hour and 20 mins – resulting in £323.57.

Final total amount of money ‘spent’ on the Christmas card production line amounts to £426.70

And when you factor in the (needless) lopping down of trees, cost of print, production and packaging for the cards themselves you can see that we also have a rather unenvironmentally friendly pastime going on here…

Chuck in the erosion of my mental well-being and the domestic arguments that card-writing induces (my other half refers to this as the ‘maryrdom factor’ – but he’s the lazy sod who has gotten away with not doing any – for 40-odd years…) and ultimately, the case against me sending ANY cards at all is overwhelming.

So I will be giving the money ‘saved’ towards our little project to help kids in Namibia receive reading materials (see the blog for May this year.)

Cards from dear-hearts on our mantlepiece this year (NB if you're wondering who the hell vandalised the mantlepiece - it's been there since 1790 so it was probably some Georgian or Victorian scumbag)

Cards from nice people displayed on our mantle this year (NB if you’re wondering who the hell vandalised the stonework, the house was built in 1790 so it was probably some Georgian or Victorian scumbag or other…)

However. There are a few exceptions to the rule who might well end up receiving a card from me and mine:

a) Orphans, widowed people, elderly folk and the vulnerable (’cause Jesus was really into caring about that lot wasn’t he? And seeing as though I’m far too often accused of being a martyr…)

b) Muslims (because despite what the far right may like you to believe – I do have some muslim pals who like to send me a Christmas card. Fab, I say! Deserves some reciprocation!)

c) Family at the other end of the country who we never get to see

d) Good friends overseas

e) People who send me a really nice, thoughtful card with a special message

f) Really posh and important people who would be horribly offended if I didn’t send them one and….


See! I’ve fallen for it again! Sodding hell.

Anyway. All I can say is this – if you DO enjoy writing cards then carry on with it. There has been the odd year where I enjoyed card-writing (although I was probably drunk) so yeah, just carry on keeping the Post Office alive. And if I receive a card from you – rest assured that it will duly be recycled into a gift tag for pressies to people next year (or even this year, if I’m bored and fancy a tinker with the crimping shearts.)

Oh – and the same rules as above tend to apply for the sending of birthday cards in our wee family. It doesn’t happen that often…(in fact my daughter has never received a card from us. She doesn’t seem to be that arsed about it, funnily enough.)

So am I saying that the whole greeting card-writing thing is redundant in my life? Not at all. In fact, over the last year or so, writing and sending greetings cards has become a lot more fun. A certain old buddy of mine (old as in ‘we met at Brownies’ not as in she’s a bit musty-smelling) and I have created a new and very enjoyable pastime. We hunt out the most horrible, old-fashioned and/or tacky cards that we can possibly lay our mitts on. We both get very excited about the hideous monstrosity which we expect to receive at birthdays and at Christmas time.  The clincher this year was one that I had saved from 1978 (I kid you not…just ask my other half about my squirelling tendencies…) Even back then, as a tiny nipper just about to embark on the art of card-sending… I couldn’t believe how vile it was.  Neither could my buddy when she opened the damned thing.

So although me and my pal’s families think that we’re both crackers, it’s definitely brought the joy – and certainly the ‘thought’ back into our card-sending. As well as spreading knowledge about dialect (oh come on – don’t tell me you don’t know what the word ‘fow’ means?!)

The FOWEST card imaginable. And a genuine relic - saved by me from a 1978 rubbish bin - and lovingly sent to a pal who appreciates utter crapness at Christmas...

The FOWEST card imaginable. And a genuine relic – saved by me from a 1978 rubbish bin – and lovingly sent to a pal who appreciates utter crapness at Christmas. (Do google ‘Fow’ if you are unsure of the meaning of this Lancashire word)

So if you don’t receive a card from me this year. Please don’t sulk. Or think that I don’t love you. I do. It’s just that I’ve decided to write to people throughought the year instead. Seems a bit more meaningful that way. It means that I can spend more time thinking about you, making a greater effort to reach out to people and putting more care and consideration into my written communication.

Well. That’s my bloody excuse anyway…



Longing for School (Kicking Off At The Post Office!)

2 Sep

It’s well depressing for the them, isn’t it? Just look at their mugs on the photo.

Please Mother! We need school! We are tired of being your lackeys!

Please Mother! We need school! We are tired of being your lackeys!

Gawd help ’em. Having to go back to a life of riley where they receive a free education, free nosh (well…if they’re attending an infant school – from this term onwards) and free access to a whole host of adult educators – whether teachers, teaching assistants, admin and secretarial staff, reading helpers, lunchtime supervisors, cooks and caretakers. Crazy folk who seem to want to hang out with the the little critters from 9 am till about 3 ish.

Mad as a bag of frogs these people may be, but they spend their lives educating our children and they deserve way, way more than a medal. ( And the next time that I’m off on one – moaning about how ‘the summer holidays are too long….’ please poke me in the eye and remind me of this.)

Because from what I hear from my teaching professional mates and relatives, these days bringing education to kids in the western world is harder than ever. The all-availability of non-stop TV channels for kids, the never-ending drizzle of the internet and the fact that so many of our bairns have screens all over the show in their homes and carte blanche to do whatever they want to whether it be the X Box or tablet or Playstation or iphone app game gubbins…

Well, it all seems to lead to one things. A nation of kids who are expecting to be entertained with the ‘Wow!’ factor, every second of the day. And generally speaking, learning and retaining information is -and should be – a long and laborious process – both for the pupil and the teacher. The important lessons in life take a bit of time chewing over.

So I reckon that in 20 years time, we might well be beating ourselves up badly as we reflect on how we didn’t police our nippers’ use of screen time effectively enough. How we didn’t take the time to repeat repeat repeat and to use some of the more old-fashioned methods that involve less stimulation and immediate reward. And how we ourselves as adults, perhaps got too hooked, too quickly into soundbite and wow-factor instantanous habits in terms of electronic communication.

My kids – and my family –  have been lucky enough to see the extremes of ‘lack of access to’ media stimulation for children. (See the blogs below where me and my mini funny lass chat about kids, education and life in Africa.) What I didn’t write about in these posts were just how amazed we were to realise how we could cope for several weeks without phones, TVs, internet access and all of that. Sure – I had done this before in Africa – but last time round and living there, it was sans kids. When you have the nippers – its so much easier to reach out for Mr Tumble or Walt Disney to babysit the little varmints…

So, back to why the kids are looking like miserable little critters in the photo. This was actually meant to be a HAPPY photo. It was meant to be a “look – we are sending our first parcel of comics to the kids in namibia and aren’t we proud of ourselves and everyone who has helped us!” shot.  But we were all rather weary by this point. This was the last day of the school holidays. Following on from our African experience, the kids have had a no-TV and no screen time during the weekdays rule  imposed on them. And only limited access at the weekends.

Actually, it really has worked very well for all of us. Time in the garden, time playing with friends and grandparents, time making up games and plays. Best of all – time READING BOOKS. But please don’t think that I have turned into one of those sanctimonious parents who wants to tell you what a wonderful job of parenting I am doing. That the TV is evil etc etc. The simple fact for me, is that I actually much prefer the company of my kids when their brains haven’t been mashed by the screens. They are nicer. They are less wound-up. They are less gobby.  We have less arguments about moving them away from the screens.

My other half actually calls this approach our ‘Reverse Psychology Summer Strategy’. i.e. “We don’t let them have access to anything quick and fun. We give them loads of dull ‘down time’ like we used to have in the summer holidays when we were kids. We ignore them. We take them on boring shopping trips to Boots. We tell them that we have important work to get done. We make them clean cupboards. And at the end of the six weeks they are utterly sick of the sight of us and desperate to get back to school.”

So the photo above? They were pretty much sick of the sight of me by this point.  And also – I was rather at my wit’s end too – having just shrieked “This is a Post Office for God’s Sake! It’s not a playground! Everyone in the queue is staring at you! Just behave yourselves! Our entire village will be down the police station trying to get you ASBO’d if you don’t pack it in!’

Ah the bliss of packing them off with a an un-ironed jumper and an illegal Twix bar in the lunchbox this morning…


Comic Remedies

19 Jun

….Part 7  (Dictated to me by small, guest blogger/daughter.)

“My mum said that I can have the last blog where we talk about the street children in Namibia.The very last thing we did that day – on the day when all of these pictures were taken – after we gave the children all of the things that had been bought for them, was this:

WE GAVE AWAY OUR BELOVED BEANO’S!!! (3 exclamation marks please, mum!)  ARRGHHHH! I just can’t believe that we did that. And other comics too! And here is a photo of the children with them:Their new comics - not enough! Need more!

But we were so happy that they got something to read. Because this will entertain them. And teach them to read english. It’s their national language actually and it is nice for them to learn.

They asked us to send books because they don’t have any. And they wanted – if they could manage to get to school like we were helping them to – to have sort of something like an after-school club, to have like – a reading club. We said that we couldn’t afford to pay for a big box of books because of how much the post office people charge you for parcels – even to the poorest people in the world 😦  And I think that our government in England could change this, if they really wanted to. WHAT CAN WE DO TO CHANGE THIS? IT MAKES ME REALLY LIVID!!!! (4 exclamation marks this time, please.)

So instead, we said that we would send them some comics instead. And this will be brilliant because we can send a lot. It’s still expensive but not anything as stupidly expensive as a big parcel. BUT this will entertain them even more than proper books, I think!

Comics are so important to our family because they helped me to read. I used to detest reading. But now, when a book is put in front of me – I can pick it up and read it. Only – I repeat – only IF IT’S INTERESTING! Also my mum, when she was my age, loved comics more than anything. Here are two photos of her reading a comic. Haha look at her glasses and that bum! No wonder she never goes out of the house without make-up on! And she still never stops reading now!

Look at that bum!

She couldn’t read without her glasses! (she still can’t!)








And here also is proof that even Grandma is made to read The Beano. Hahaha! (evil laugh.)

Grandma enjoying The Beano (in her wildest dreams/ nightmares.)

Grandma enjoying The Beano (in her wildest dreams/ nightmares.)

The kids at my school and my brother’s school where we live in west Yorkshire are now collecting their comics for all of this. Can I just say an overwhelming THANK YOU to all our school friends and parents and those very very special other ones who helped us and whose names I will not say because you might slap me. You know what? You made their lives so much better and I bet you don’t believe that. But really – be proud of yourselves because you really did put a big smile on their faces. I wish you could have seen it for yourselves.

I’m finishing with a Hello and a Thank You from them all to you.

And just to add a bit of comedy to it all, this is where we left my brother.  It has been very peaceful without him!!!!!!!!!! (10 exclamation marks, please.)

Love, The Mini Funnylass xx ”

My brother and his new house. I do hope that he is alright there ... (not!)

My brother and his new house. I do hope that he is alright there … (not!)