Daughter-who-loves-food has asked me to do some more reminiscences so that things which have happened to me and the family and things that matter to me don’t get forgotten in years to come. Daft though it may sound I decided to start with my love of pillar boxes.
I must have been quite young when I first fell for pillar boxes because I remember how excited I was at the age of about five or six to be given a Post Office. Sadly my parents weren’t in a position to buy me a real life Post Office but the one I got pleased me no end. I think it was a Berwick one.
It had a pillar box like this one
There were also some scales (these scales are more modern ones) but I can’t recall what else.
We had a pillar box at the end of our road to be allowed to post things into it – by things I mean letters and packets, of course. And if one arrived at the moment when it was being unlocked and emptied so much the better. It meant one could have a word with the postman and see his van.
I think it was the standard pillar box red colour that gave me my abiding liking for that colour and made me support Liverpool Football Club over their blue-clad rivals, Everton.
And amongst the ‘carmines’ and ‘scarlet lakes’ there was usually a ‘pillar box red’ in the little boxes of watercolour paints that we used.
And, of course, in those days our telephone boxes were the same Post Office red.
Surprisingly perhaps I didn’t start photographing pillar boxes (and other boxes into which one mails such as lamp post boxes and wall post-boxes) until the 1980s.
But they do appear on a number of earlier shots as the little spot of red one was advised to try to capture in a landscape or cityscape to give a focal point. In the absence of a pillar box a person in a red cagoule or jumper was, and remains, a good idea.
Somewhere around the 1980s I joined the Pillar Box Society and discovered I wasn’t the only nutcase who collected photos of these boxes. I also found out that some folk were so engrossed with their hobby that they were concerned with the individual manufacturers of boxes and other small inconsequentials of no interest to me.
Around 1990 I had a weekend away on my own to photograph half a dozen boxes I didn’t have pictures of and also to do some seeking of books in that the wonderful town of Hay-on-Wye where I knew they boxes were to be found along with a plethora of second-hand bookshops. It was a most enjoyable weekend, not only giving me some space from family (which we all need on occasion) but also allowing me to satisfy that hunting instinct.
I’m still happy to ask Partner-who-loves-tea or GB to stop the car and let me out to photograph a type of box I haven’t seen before – there aren’t that many so it doesn’t happen too often. The most recent were the boxes painted gold to celebrate the Olympic Gold Medal of a local resident – one box for each gold medal. P-w-l-t and I hunted down a few.
It’s good to have a partner who accommodates one’s foibles. Especially as the first one we sought was in a little village buried in the countryside, miles from anywhere.
Nowadays, of course, pillar boxes are the impoortant repository for my postcards and letters to friends and fellow postcrossers.
Pillar boxes represent one and a half centuries of history and remain today so important in my life. What more could one ask from a chunk of cast-iron on the side of the road?