Working late at the office, I witnessed a postman collecting our mail.
Seeing the mail being collected was a bit like catching your parents snogging: vaguely frightening but weird that you had never seen it happen before.
This postman, to the eye, was a brute. As wide as he was tall, his DayGlo orange tabard had been custom-made: stitched up the middle from two regular-sized tabards. The fist with which he clutched the mailbag was like a joint of cured ham and the other fist was even bigger. His bald head was as big and white and shining as something from a planetarium.
And yet he had a friendly manner to him; a manner which suggested that in the past he had tried to turn his massive hand to something gentle. Lepidoptery, he would have tried, or cross-stitch or, perhaps most appropriately for a postman, the philatelic arts. His efforts, however, would have resulted in nothing but rage at the undextrous snozcumbers of his fingers, his big bald head covered in stamp hinges.
If he had been born in 1950s Hollywood he would definitely have been touted around the studios by his mother where eventually he would get a job being whipped by Bella Lugosi and saying “Friend?” to beautiful women.
But he wasn’t. He was born in 1978 to Alfred and Agnes Cox and now he lugs parcels around for Royal Mail. One day he will die and there won’t be a coffin big enough for him so he will have to be buried in a barrel or minced.
The postman had been coming up the stairs when I saw him so by the time he was on the landing he was behind me. The institutional carpet before me became eclipsed by his hunched and mighty shadow. I could hear his breathing.
I turned to go into the bathroom and it crossed my mind that he could perfectly easily follow me inside and bum me in the cubicle if the desire so took him.
And it surely would take him. Postmen love gay sex. They do it all day at the depot. Bum, bum, bum. This is where we get the phrase “letterboxing.”
What would I do in this event? Logic would dictate calling the police or maybe asking my mum to have some very stern words with the Postmaster General. But in truth, because I am English, I probably wouldn’t say anything because I wouldn’t want to cause a fuss.
I never imagined I would be a suffer-in-silence type. Looks like I am.
Needless to say, I remained unmolested. But for half a second it seemed highly plausible: the fact that he could overpower me so easily combined with his frustrated gentleness made me think that it was definitely going to happen.
But instead of doing a rape, the postman went about his business of collecting the mail and dreaming of a better world.
The lovable knucklehead.