I don’t recall how it came about, but in December 1965 I joined the thousands of youngsters nationwide drafted in to assist with Christmas mail deliveries. My father had a hand in this arrangement as a friend of his worked at the Post Office and ‘put in a good word’ on my behalf. How I managed to wangle time off from school I’ve no idea either, but I suspect they thought I wasn’t doing much in lessons so a few weeks away would make no difference. There’s no doubt I was an idle daydreamer and if there had been an ‘O’ level in that subject I’d have passed with flying colours. I wasn’t the only one from school though to be given leave of absence, one other from my year was also taken on, but he had a cushy job on the parcels van.
I’ve no idea what the regular postman must have thought when he saw the puny teenager he’d been given to assist with his round, uncommunicative and quiet I must have been a bit of a disappointment when all the other ‘Chistmasers’ were boisterous and obviously more fun, but nevertheless he struggled-on training me on my round which just happened to be the street on which I lived.
It rained, it always rained, just as I heaved the heavy sack on my shoulder it rained. Down Merthyr Mawr Road I tramped, the left side only until I reached The Retreat, then I crossed over and retraced my steps on the other side taking in Dillwyn Gardens until I came to the junction of Glanogwr Road. That’s where my round ended; another temp did the right side of the first part of Merthyr Mawr Road and he also covered Glanogwr Road, Bowham Avenue and Newbridge Gardens. Both routes were approximately the same length.
On the 17th of December, which was a Friday, I arrived for work at the temporary sorting office in the Drill Hall in Quarella Road only to be told there was no mail, there’d been a train crash just outside Bridgend and the mail train couldn’t get through. Nothing to deliver, I was sent home, without pay, but was told to stay near the phone as I might be called back in later that day – I wasn’t!
Later I discovered that a locomotive had derailed due to a landslide caused by the recent heavy rain whilst hauling a train of empty passenger coaches, and this in turn was run into by a freight train, a Class 37 and a Class 47 being involved with the sad loss of life on both diesel locomotives. It took some while to sort everything out but by Saturday morning mail had started to come back into town by road and my daily drudge recommenced with a double delivery of mail on Monday until on Christmas Eve I thankfully did my last round and I resolved never to get coerced into delivering mail again.