Memories: 1984

Delivering the mail

“List to me while I tell you Of the Spaniard that blighted my life”! Cecil was in a good mood and he hummed the rest of his favourite song, a song he used when he was about to regale us with more of his stories.

“He shall die! He shall die! He shall die tiddly-i-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-ti! He shall die! He shall die! For I’ll raise a bunion on his Spanish onion If I catch him bending tonight!” he finished with a flourish.

Luckily it was already mid morning and I, his daughter did not have to endure the sight of him in pajamas, bed hair and no teeth. Cecil was already up and dressed, breakfasted and ready for the journey. His Kruchens Salts container lay lidded on the sideboard ready for another morning.

I was ready too! Today was the day, 11 February 1984! Dreading what had transpired overnight in the hospital ward, we prepared for the drive. It was my time to be the driver, and he the passenger. Patiently I waited while Dad told me, again, the story of the mail deliveries he used to make in Ferntree Gully, back in the 1950s. Another drive of some significance.

“Back in those days it was a cut lunch and a thermos, trip”, he said. “I remember the early rises, collecting the mail bag from the store. You know back in the fifties people relied on the local postman. There were newspapers, letters, parcels and sometimes telegrams. Oldies stopped me for a natter and I listened as they told me their stories, of family, of heartache, illness, death or joy.”

I remembered those journeys too when I was allowed to tag along and help post the plethora of letters and flyers into people’s letter boxes. This too would become a thing of the past.

“That old Morris van was a real bone shaker! Do you remember how we would sing along; it helped to pass the time! My favourite was the Spaniard, of course, and yours, well what was your favourite”? he asked.

“I had a few, but I liked it better when you sang another of your favourites – A wandering minstrel – from the Mikado, one of Mum’s favourite light operas.”

Immediately his face lit up as he recalled the lines – “A wandering minstrel, I, a thing of shreds and patches” he launched into the first verse and faltered on the last lines.

A wandering minstrel I—
A thing of shreds and patches,
Of ballads, songs and snatches,
And dreamy lullaby!
And dreamy lullaby!

“Let’s get going, Mum will be anxious to see you, my love”, he said wiping a tear from his eye and putting on his old tartan beret.

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