Sunday 31 January 2010

I Hate Changes

There used to be a Post Office on the corner of our street. The friendly Post Master knew us all, especially the local writers who handed over unsealed envelopes for weighing and then asked for two lots of stamps, one for the envelope and the other for the sae inside. He never held the envelopes upside down or tipped out their contents by mistake. He was a Post Master who cared. He cared about the pensioners, the local businesses, all of us. The authorities ignored our objections and our petitions and they closed it anyway. I hate changes.

The other day I was standing in the long queue at what is now my nearest Post Office. I was holding my manuscript together with covering letter, synopsis and sae, all carefully prepared, checked and placed in a large white envelope ready for weighing, stamping, posting and travelling off to Scary Editor. The queue was barely moving. An occasional shuffle was a highlight. Someone started chatting.

‘Did you know that exactly 100 years ago they built the first ever cinema in Leicester,’ said Chatty Lady. I didn’t know, but it made me remember that, when I was young, there used to be a cinema on the corner of our street. The Evington it was called. It had a grand facade outside and grubby, velvet seats inside but it was our ‘local’, a cheap, enjoyable night out with no parking problems or crowds to push through. It’s a care home now. I hate changes.

‘And what’s more,’ continued Chatty Lady. ‘In 1913 they built the De Montfort Hall.’ Now we were talking real nostalgia. All the live concert tours visited Leicester’s De Montfort Hall in the 1960s. I was a regular. I’ve sat within touching distance of Mick Jagger, Billy J. Kramer, Gene Pitney, Gerry and the Pacemakers, even the Beatles.

I queued all night to get a ticket to see the Beatles. Mum thought I was staying with a friend. Her Mum thought she was staying with me. We sang Beatles songs and chanted their names into the darkness – oh for the energy of youth. At dawn a huge plate glass window smashed under our combined weight but we stuck it out and got our prized tickets. I was on the front row of the balcony for that concert. I screamed. I cried. I almost passed out in the interval. It was the best concert I’ve ever been to.

Chatty Lady confided that she still goes to the ‘De Mont’ to see many of those same artists and I confessed that I do too. Their tours now bear names like The Silver Sixties. The music has come down in pitch and to be honest the stars aren’t quite so... well... sexy as they once were. But then I can’t get up and dance like I used to and waving my arms in the air hurts. I hate changes.

We were shuffling closer now and chatting gave way to anticipation. ‘Cashier number three please,’ said the automated voice and I waved goodbye to Chatty Lady. Cashier number three did not make eye contact. She took my precious envelope.

‘Please don’t hold it that way up... No, it’s not sealed because...’ Too late!

I do miss the Post Office on the corner of our street and I really hate changes, especially ones that have been imposed upon us from on high with a blatant disregard for local needs.