Dear Granny Smith: A letter from your postman

by ‘Roy Mayall

AKA CJ Stone

Free audiobook, written by Roy Mayall, delivered by Philip Jackson; a heartfelt musing on the past, present and future role of one of the oldest British institutions, the Postie.

For those of you who don’t know, Dear Granny Smith was written by your favourite postie, Chris Stone. It was published in September 2009 by Short Books and was featured as Book of the Week on Radio 4 in the week starting Monday 14th December 2009.

It was my most successful book ever, selling in excess of 12,000 copies and getting to number 6 on the Amazon chart. It is set in Whitstable.

It isn’t quite an autobiography. It was based upon an interview I did with one of my colleagues, Syd, down the Labour Club one afternoon. We spent a leisurely couple of hours, downing a number of pints, discussing what should go in the book. Syd told me the story of his life, pointing at my notebook every time he wanted to emphasise something he thought should be included.

The book is dedicated “To all the old posties who still care.” It was Syd I was referring to.

While the biographical part belongs to Syd, the rest of it is mine, however. The descriptions of life as a postie are mine. The attitudes and the air of mischief are mine. The politics are mine.

The reason it was written under a pseudonym is that it would have caused me grief at work to have written it under my own name. It was lucky that I was working in Whitstable at the time. Everyone knew it was me, even the managers, but that fact never made it beyond the walls of our office.

After we’d moved to Canterbury, I was finally tracked down and taken in for a disciplinary hearing. Fortunately this was only a couple of months before my retirement and it never progressed beyond that. I suspect the local managers felt it was above their pay grade having to deal with it. The complaint came from Head Office.

I was the go-to voice for all matters to do with the postal industry for a while, writing a number of articles for the Guardian, both online and in the newspaper, while providing a regular blog for the London Review of Books. There were a few other publications too, including the Morning Star and the Socialist Worker.

You can read all of my Roy Mayall material here.

You can buy copies of the book here.

The voice of Roy Mayall on Book of the Week was Philip Jackson, who many of you will recognise as Chief Inspector Japp in the TV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot, along with many other TV parts.

Later Radio 4’s You and Yours commissioned me to write a piece for them, and they too used Philip Jackson’s voice talents which eventually lead to a meeting at London’s famous Groucho Club.

Philip and I still keep in contact and, had this year’s Carnival gone ahead, I would have invited him down to be the guest of honour and to give out the prizes.

Following are the links to all the episodes in the series. My thanks to Clive Brill of Pacificus Productions for permission to use this material.

I can honestly say that hearing this material on Radio 4 was one of the proudest moments of my life. Enjoy.

Episode 1

Why postmen used to have the best job in the world, and why it’s heading towards becoming the worst.

Episode 2

The special relationship between the postman and his clients, and what it’s like to be up at the crack of dawn.

Episode 3

Delivering letters is just the tip of the iceberg – how does the right letter end up in the right letterbox?

Episode 4

The end of the team talk and the beginning of new-fangled machinery.

Episode 5

The tale of Tom and Jerry and the big grey boxes.


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