Postman Pat and the slow death of the postal service

A quick post in response to a conversation on Twitter today:

You know, Pat has moved on a lot since I was a kid. Obviously there’s the whole thing where he is married with a kid now (not enough to stop those rumours about him and Ted), but the show has also moved with the times politically.

OK, I’ve not seen Pat on the picket line but the newest Postman Pat series, Special Delivery Service sees Pat face the reality of life in the dying days of the postal service. He now commutes from Greendale to the nearest big town. From here the mail service is run on an industrial scale, and Pat’s job is no longer to be an affable fixture of village life, a constant in a world that is changing too fast, a character and a public servant, but to provide premium delivery services.

Mrs Goggins is moved to the periphery of the mail story (they haven’t yet, as far as I know, closed her post office but surely it must be constantly under threat). This is Postman Pat as delivered by Consignia, it is very much a sign of our times and actually I find it all quite poignant. Pat is now something of a superhero, but like all the best superheroes you feel that behind the mask there is darkness, sadness, tragedy.

I can tell that Pat is afraid for his village, for the community, for Mrs Goggin’s post office, afraid of the very death of the English countryside as its vitality is sucked towards the bright lights of the big towns. But he’s trapped – trapped by a duty to get the mail delivered on time (whatever that may mean now) and trapped by the need to put food on the table for the family he possibly never really wanted.

Perhaps Pat should have gone on that picket line after all when he still had the chance, but it’s too late now and he must muddle through trying to make the best of his new reality.

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Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research:

  • Lauren

    “Pat is now something of a superhero, but like all the best superheroes you feel that behind the mask there is darkness, sadness, tragedy.”

    I think this is spot on – indeed, I was just discussing yesterday the untainted purity and warm contentment encapsulated in the line “Pat feels he’s a really happy man” in the original theme song. Even though there’s something Judith Butler-esque about that formation in the first place (why does he *feel* like a really happy man, as opposed to *being* a really happy man?), it seems a sign of the times that that sentiment has gone altogether.

    (I don’t talk about Postman Pat all that much on Twitter. Just these past two days, it seems.)

    • Jon Hickman

      Oh God! He’s not really happy, it’s just a performance of happiness. Dark indeed!

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