13th July


‘There you go,’ Alex Mather said, on his return from the post office. ‘A leaflet detailing the things you can and can’t send in the Royal Mail. Mostly can’t.’

‘Thank you,’ Jill Mather said, putting it with all the other leaflets in the basket on the dresser. ‘I thought the Royal Mail was being abolished?’

‘Privatised,’ Alex said. He poured himself coffee from the cafetière, put the mug in the microwave and blasted it for thirty seconds on full power. ‘Same thing. Surely nobody really believes this crap about maintaining the universal service?’

‘I only just made that.’

‘I like it hot, though.’

‘It is hot.’

‘Piping hot.’

‘Be careful.’

‘I mean, what business intent on making a profit would happily accept
an obligation to deliver to the last house on Unst six days a week? Eh? Whoever takes over, the first thing they’ll do is lobby to get Saturday deliveries to Unst scrapped. Jeesus!’

‘I did warn you.’

‘Then they’ll want differential rates for all supposedly remote postcodes. Or a subsidy. Guess who’ll pay for that? It’ll be the railways all over again, I’m telling you.’

‘I’m not arguing, Alex,’ Jill said. ‘I agree with you.’

‘Speaking of “differential”, there was an MP on the radio earlier, did you hear him? “I beg to differentiate,” he said. Can you credit it? We’re ruled by morons, total morons.’

‘I know.’

‘You haven’t even looked at this.’ He took the leaflet from the basket, touching its shiny surface to his lips to cool them down.

‘I will. Later.’

‘ “You are not permitted to send waste, dirt, filth or refuse in the mail,” ’ Alex read. ‘Maybe we should start a campaign of civil disobedience. Post jiffy bags full of ordure to the idiots who came up with this privatisation idea.’


‘I’m joking. I’m not going to descend to their level. What about the Queen? It’s hers really. Her head’s all over it. You’d think she’d object.’

‘Yes, why don’t you get her on board? Start at the top and work your way down.’

Alex grinned at her with his burnt lips.

‘You’re a cheeky bitch, Mrs Mather,’ he said.

‘That’s why you married me,’ she said.

Reader: Tam Dean Burn
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Guitar: Sorren Maclean
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