Sunday, 29 September 2013

Will we never be free

I read yesterday in the local paper that 200 things have been added to a list of protected things in the borough, buildings mainly I think but one caught my eye: an Edward VIII pillar box. One of perhaps only 130 survivors from 1936, the famous year of the three kings, the British Empire's lamer version of the Roman Empire's year of the four emperors in AD69. (Itself exceeded in AD193, the year of the five emperors. But by then multiple-monarch fatigue had set in.)

Anyway, the prospect saw me up and dressed before 9am on a Sunday morning and rocketing off on my bike (my pyjama clad wife forlorn, "But...what's for breakfast?"). My destination: the mysterious, relatively unexplored bit of Twickenham sandwiched between the railway lines and the A316 (near the Stoop stadium).

There's something very Victorian about pillar boxes, mainly I suppose because they emerged in that era and generally the design hasn't been changed and perhaps because even now they're Elizabeth II boxes, and she exists as a living link to the last vestiges of the Empire. I was going to throw in the fact that they're painted bright red, which is our imperial colour, only I read that originally they were painted green. And, according to the lovely British Postal Museum & Archive, "the colour green proved too unobtrusive and people were unable to find them".


  1. Now you mention it, I don't think I've ever seen an Edward VIII one. It says here that 'although 161 were made, most were vandalised or had the cypher ground off'.

    Good work that man.

    Hope Mrs Tog got breakfast in the end.

  2. That’s it. I’m done. You Brits leave your wives alone on a Sunday morning without breakfast to go and find out the whereabouts of a damned pillar box. And then there’s me who spends every damn Sunday morning doing all the damn week’s ironing. Life’s unfair.

  3. Historical trips are often more important than breakfast- priorities Luca.

  4. Apparently there's one tucked away in East Sheen, Davy. West Temple Sheen to be precise. Which is an interesting name for a road. And no, poor old Mrs Tog had to get by on toast until we went to the pub at about half three.

    Hello Luca! That's very organised with the ironing, I iron stuff on a day to day basis. Your ironing board will probably outlast mine. I do normally rustle up the breakfasts at the weekend, but sometimes I just have to cut loose and go and find a pillar box or something. Don't worry, the wife understands.

    SA - Much as I love historical missions I do consider breakfast to be very important. This was intended to be a ninja-style strike - back before the missus was even awake.

  5. I was just being envious but.. I need to say it..
    My ironing board continues to decline.

    I know. Go to my room.

  6. No, nicely done Luca. On a serious note, our ironing board fell to bits the other month. The wife was all for throwing it out, but for a nut that was so small the shop didn't even charge me for it, I totally repaired it.

  7. When I get a minute I shall hie me to West Temple Sheen (if they let me up there: that's the well-posh bit) and try to get a snap. Leave it with me, yeah?

  8. PS: Have you abandoned the Twitter?

  9. The only time I've been that way (on foot anyway, as opposed to driving through) I went to the Black Horse pub, which was not at all posh. Maybe that's why they closed it and turned it into flats. One of my cousins used to live in Sheen, but I never visited her. She's in Wimbledon now and I don't visit her there either. I'm a bad cousin.

    And yes, I've packed in Twitter. I wasn't tweeting nor reading the tweets of others. So I pressed the self destruct button. I'm touched that you noticed.

  10. I'm touched that you're touched that I noticed ; )