On my way into town I bumped into Grange Girl. I began telling her about an excellent article in Tunnel and Bridge Monthly, which settled the much-disputed pronunciation of ‘Cuilfail’ once and for all. Nonetheless, Grange Girl picked holes, plunging us into a heated debate which culminated in me saying I’d already put the article aside for her, her replying she would use it for cat litter, and me pointing out that she hadn’t got a cat.
Both slightly ashamed after this outburst, we moved to discussing our Waitrose lists. I said, ‘Must remember to post a letter on the way.’
Grangey seemed strangely interested. ‘Which post box will you use?’
‘Probably the one opposite Boots. Why?’
‘Ah ha! It’s not there any more.’‘Where’s it gone?’
‘Post box heaven. You’ll have to choose another. May I recommend the fine example outside the Nutty Wizard?’
‘Grangey, have you been making a study of Lewes post boxes?’
‘My new year’s resolution is to memorise them all!’ she cried. ‘Then, wherever I am, if someone rushes up in urgent need of a post box, I can calmly direct them to the nearest.’
‘You really have lost it this time.’
‘Let’s take a tour’, she said, steering me up the hill. ‘There’s one outside Ask, and obviously the Post Office. You can’t use that, it’s too easy. Though there is that decommissioned box inside… very interesting.’
Round Lewes we trundled, my protests futile: Grangey had the light of obsessive completism in her eyes. ‘Ah yes, one by LOGS, one outside the loos, the Gallops, ooh, here’s the funny one in the wall of St Anne’s Crescent.’
‘A pigeon-pock fairy box’, I said without thinking.
‘Ahem. It’s what we called those flat ones when I was a kid. We, uh, thought they looked pretend, the sort of things fairies would use.’
‘Fair point, I’ve never actually seen a postman emptying one of these. They’re probably a front for something.’
We counted the impressive series of red boxes across the Nevill and Wallands: ‘Nine!’ Then down to the pigeon-pock fairy box at the bottom of Keere Street, where we found DJ Mama swearing because she was unable to post a letter into the tiny slot. We sent her to a real post box, and headed off, round Grange Road, Priory Street, the station: by the time we were back at the Cliffe I was agog at both the extent of the network and Grangey’s imaginative methods for passing the idle hour.
‘We haven’t even done Landport, Pells, or Malling’, she said happily.
‘Yes, there’s that one at Cuilfail’, I said, risking the correct pronunciation, and receiving a hard stare.
Outside WH Smith’s I finally posted my letter.
‘Who’s it to, out of interest?’ asked Grangey.
‘It’s to you, Grangey. It’s that article from Tunnel.’
‘I’m just going to mark it ‘return to sender’ when it arrives’, she said, as we walked back along the Cliffe.
‘I know’, I said.
Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Alex Leith