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I thought that Auden made a creditable putt at this but nevertheless it needed improving!


Where is the Night Mail which once crossed the border

Which brought us our cheques and our postal orders

With bundles of letters for disembarcation

For sorting at depots next door to the station

An essential amenity served by the train

But post’s now transported by truck or by plane

A service long-gone to the wall

We don’t need the Night Mail at all.


No more will we witness the grab of the net

A spectacle lost that we no doubt regret

Whereby the express train would not need to stop

At stations on route to collect or to drop

But rather observe as they clutter the roads

Enormous red lorries with motorway loads

Make their daytime and overnight haul

We don’t need the Night Mail at all.


No clouds of white steam shovelled over her shoulder

But spectres more common, commercial and colder

The sight of a Jubilee steaming up Shap

Replaced by pantechnicons at Watford Gap

Delivering daily your parcel or letter

Adjudged by the management cheaper and better

Enabling the postie to call

We don’t need Night Mail at all.


Airmail from Spain, Bahrain, the Ukraine

The junk and the dross, discarded and tossed

Solicitors letters upholding the law

No need any longer to drop through your door

Letters from mates, our bills and our rates

From penpals who live in the United States

Which start, “Howdy do dere, y’all?”

We don’t need Night Mail at all.


A day to deliver from Essex to Kent

While e-mails arrive just as soon as they’re sent

Our cheques are not carried by physical traction

With banking now handled by online transaction

No more under threat from a theft on the tracks

We use direct debit and payment by BACCS

So farewell to the Castle and Hall

We don’t need the Night Mail at all, at all,

We don’t need Night Mail at all.




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Stephen Gospage

Tue 27th Jul 2021 17:24

Good point.

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John Coopey

Mon 26th Jul 2021 15:35

Thanks, Stephen. It is indeed a blot on the name of the Post Office. (Royal Mail, as you’ll know, is a separate company.)

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 26th Jul 2021 15:09

Great Rhythmic poem, John. I really enjoyed it. Times have moved on and the service wasn't always perfect, but it was to see how the UK post office descended to the level of the sub-postmasters scandal.

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John Coopey

Mon 26th Jul 2021 15:07

Thanks, MC. I worked on a contract at Royal Mail. It was only the second time I have come across such timid management. They managed it by permission of the CWU. The only other similar organisation was 24/7, formerly London Electricity, where underlying every negotiation was the knowledge that the union could turn the lights off on London. That was real power. The CWU had the power to stop you receiving your Reader’s Digest.
And thanks for the Like, Jennifer.

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 26th Jul 2021 13:22

Having been in "complaint" mode with the Royal Mail about a
failed (ongoing!) delivery, I was consoled by these excellent lines
harking back to the days when the post arrived around
breakfast time and there were two or more visits to deliver or
collect what was sent. Just down the road the post box offers
ONE collection per day - at 6.30pm! One day I arrived at 5.40pm
to post my letter and found the post van there, its driver busy emptying the box. That's modern efficiency for you.

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John Coopey

Mon 26th Jul 2021 07:51

Thankyou, Ray. And for the Like, Leon.

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Sun 25th Jul 2021 23:04

Greg got there ahead of me, but those lines were inspired! Great read almost feels as if you are on the move. Very enjoyable read John.


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John Coopey

Sun 25th Jul 2021 12:06

Thanks, Greg. It is a re-post From 2011 when I was contracting at Royal Mail. You inadvertently highlight an error of mine. It should have been “replaced” which I have now replaced.
And thanks for the Like, Holden.

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Greg Freeman

Sun 25th Jul 2021 08:40

Magnificent couple of lines these, John:

"The sight of a Jubilee steaming up Shap

Replace by pantechnicons at Watford Gap"

A wonderful homage and update of the master. Thanks!

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