Stamp Duty

Yesterday when we were at mum’s, I was tasked with being responsible for sending a parcel to my sister. The reasons behind this are many but boil down to the fact that mum doesn’t trust her local Post Office after – many years ago – sending a parcel next day delivery and finding, after some investigation, that it was still sitting in the post office several days later. And the fact that the Post Office in Halifax town centre has now amalgamated with WHSmith’s and the last time she was in there to go to the Post Office she accidentally went to the wrong end of the queue and a woman nearly lynched her.

So, as dutiful son it’s my responsibility to stroll to our local post office and send the parcel.

I haven’t sent anything in analogue form for ages. I’m a digital guy. If I can send it electronically, I will do. I do do.

As such I may have let out several gasps when the price of various things was revealed to me.

The parcel itself – weight weighed less than a bag of sugar – cost £3.40 to post to my sister. My sister lives in Glasgow. She doesn’t live, say, in another galaxy. I know it’s technically another country and everything, but even so it seemed quite a lot of money to send a box of stuff that didn’t weigh very much on a journey to somewhere a few hours away.

And then a book of six stamps.

The  book of stamps cost more or less the same amount as the parcel. I have never clutched something so closely to my person in ages. You know when you’re told not to walk around with your phone out because you advertise the fact you have valuables on you? I was like that with the book of stamps. I stopped short of leaving the post office and saying, loudly, “Oh well, it’s a shame you didn’t have any books of stamps to sell me. Oh well, I’ll just go home with this small cardboard folder which contains a shopping list and nothing else…” so as to dissuade any ne’er-do-wells from following me, pushing me to the ground and making off with the stamps that I can only assume have actual gold in them.

A “decent” looking Penny Black stamp (according to a very dull webpage) can cost £25 (tip top condition is up around the £1800 mark). I paid nearly a fifth of that for six stamps that were probably printed last week. The Penny Black has survived two World Wars and exposure to Victorian spit, and we all know from historic dramas that the Victorians were not the healthiest when it came to spit. It’s 170 years old, for chuff’s sake. And a “decent” version is worth the equivalent of 36 first class stamps today.

I think I’ll stick with doing stuff electronically…