One of my first holiday jobs in the 1980s was helping in the tiny Post Office on the island where I grew up. I loved sorting the mail, using the handheld date stamp to frank all the outgoing post and sealing the mailbags ready to be collected and taken by tractor to the quay to meet the cargo boat. The collection times varied according to the tides.
I even enjoyed filling out all the different paper forms for the various parcels, savings accounts and licences. This was before bar codes and scanners, when everything was hand written and we didn’t even have a cash register, so I got pretty good at mental arithmetic!
All the forms were stored in these old drawers, issued by the GPO in the 1950s. They were going to be thrown out when the Post Office moved into the island shop, so I rescued them and they’ve been in my various work spaces ever since, storing my small pieces of cotton fabric. They must have been in every Post Office at one time, mass-produced, utilitarian things, but beautifully made from wood, fabric and brass.
I recently repaired and repainted them as they were extremely battered and faded! The brown cloth covering was probably black originally but I chose a dark airforce blue.
Each drawer has an ink stamp inside saying “Supplied for the Public Service” and they’re still working away all these years later, storing my scraps and reminding me of the excitement of my first responsible grown-up job, and earning my own wages!