In the fictional town of Paddock Wood, nessled in the heart of the Garden of England, it isn’t Thursday any more.

This is unusual. There’s something very Thursday about the town I grew up in, from the crisp suburbanity of my old route to school, to the mist settling over the recreation field which the fair comes to every year, The Fictional Town seems fixed on some spring Thursday from which it will never escape, never changing, never growing, nor shrinking or knowing. The people I know here who didn’t move out as soon as school was over may never leave it, those who left did so vowing never to return (to live, at any rate). There are exceptions, and I hope to have a drink with some of them before I leave, and these prove (in the original sense of “Test”, which is where the expression comes from) the rule.

The town is less Thursday than it once was though. A couple of decades of town-council-driven expansion have put more pressure on the local aminities than they can easily cater for (The local secondary school – for example – went consitantly down-hill while I was there until the headmaster had a nervous breakdown, where-upon it went down-hill faster but with better exam results). Meanwhile, I sit and play computer games, watch Anime DVDs, and field emails from recruiters. I update my CV, fix my family’s computer problems, and read classic literiture. I drift, coast, and float over the problems awaiting my return in Cambridge, like ADSL bills, and Electricity bills, and rent.


The dog is sulking, and will be all day.

The reason for this is completely logical, though he may disagree. This morning, the morning routine happened as normal, parents walk dog, breakfast, Dad leaves for work, Mum starts preparing to do so. The second – the instant – Mum gets as far as finding her shoes the dog – who up until now has been either eating his breakfast or laying down ignoring it – leaps for the front door, then follows her doggedly – ahem – until she leaves, barking all the while. This is because the dog – Jasper, a Bearded Collie – spends his weekdays at work with Mum in the shop (the same shop I spent Monday slicing bits off my hands), and doesn’t want to accidentally be left behind.

Today, this won’t happen because the cleaner who comes once a week is coming, so the dog has to not be here.

Except with a quick phone call, this isn’t happening as the cleaner has to take her daughter into casualty. Since both me and Matt – one of my younger brothers – are here all day, so the dog doesn’t get to go to work.

So the dog is sulking, and will be all day.


Monday morning I awoke somewhat early at nine thirty. This, you may think as an instance of the class employed, which extends class “people”, is not particually early, except that I was up until 3am playing computer games, watching Anime DVDs, and fielding emails from recruiters. The shop at which I used to work on Saturdays (The same shop Mum and Jasper work in) requires assistance in “Bagging Up” and would I mind giving a hand? They have to be fairly desperate to ask, and so I agree.

Sending out letters at standard postal rates (27p per 1st class letter, 19p per second class) isn’t cost effective, so Royal Mail offer a system called Mailsort, which means that in return for doing the regional sorting for them, you get a massive discount on postage. Basically, they split the country into regions (by three possible systems, each priced differantly, so you sort into 120, 700 or 1400 regions), you give them a specially labeled mail-sack for each region you deliver to with all the mail for that region in it.

For bagging up, then, we are given a load of boxes of groups of letters. Each collection contains a paper bag-tag, and the letters for one region. Bagging Up consists of putting the letters for one region into labeled sacks, and then loading them up onto a Yorkie (Post Office cage on wheels) for the Royal Mail lorry to pick up later. Because the shop isn’t very big, me and Ben (My other younger brother, who was also volenteered to help) were working outside on a freezing cold Febuary day.

The first set were the most irritating type of Mailsort to process (Both for us, as bagging it up, and for the Royal Mail, because I used to work at the Royal Mail sorting place) because it consisted of nine or so boxes (paper boxes, the type that contain about five reams of paper) of DL (1/3 A4 size, 110mm