Shropshire Star

Comment: Peter Rhodes on posting cards, Baroness Bra and the end of a Republican dream

And off to the local post office where you can hardly open the door for customers clutching greetings cards and parcels destined for all around the world.

Michelle Mone - aka Baroness Bra

In theory, there's no reason for such queues. The internet means we can post, in a nano-second, Xmas greetings to the most distant and remote places. And not only greetings but animated e-mail cards complete with singing Santas and reindeer dancing a polka. If you were the inventor of animated post cards, it would probably never occur to you that potential customers would prefer to buy greeting cards and post them with gummy stamps. It would be like punters refusing to buy motor cars because they preferred the good old Sedan chair.

And yet there is something special about a card. The thrill of choosing it. The intimacy of writing a few seasonal words. The piquant thrill of wondering whether the lady behind you with the ticklish cough has just given you Covid for Christmas. Eventually I reached the front of the queue, posted best wishes to Germany and Canada and bought 20 second-class stamps for the next batch. And then home, in my Sedan chair.

I can hardly object to Keir Starmer's plan to scrap the House of Lords, given that it was the declared aim of this newspaper (or at least of the Express & Star) way back in the 1880s. The nationwide wave of republicanism back then failed to sweep away the Lords, far less persuade Queen Victoria to resettle in Germany.

Having researched those early days of republican newspapers, founded with the support of the immensely rich Andrew Carnegie, I came to the conclusion that “Carnegie's Echoes”. as they were called, were launched too late. By the time they hit the news stands, the fickle Brits had decided they liked being Victorians, after all.

As somebody once put it, there could never be a proletariat revolution in Britain because the workers would desert the barricades to wave at the Queen passing by. And thus the dream of the British Republic died.

I'm not sure whether this week's media furore over the underwear magnate Michelle Mone (aka Baroness Bra) is a vital expose of unacceptable business practices during a national crisis or an excuse to use lots of photos of a comely peeress in her underpinnings.