I got a sad letter this morning. David, our local newsagent, gave us notice that, with effect from 16th April, he will no longer be able to deliver our daily papers. Paperboys have been a regular fixture of our lives for donkeys' years, waking us up at six forty five during school terms, turning up after we had gone to work during school holidays, leaving wheelie marks on the drive and making sure that we got a neat Christmas card every year as a mercenary reminder that there was a tip box on the shop counter. But alas no longer. It appears that the paperboy has gone the way of the milkman.
When I was a kid, everyone wanted a paper round. You could tell the lucky sods who got one as they were the ones with the shiniest bikes and spare cash to spend on iced buns in the tuck shop. I applied but failed and ended up instead as a paraffin boy lugging five gallon drums of that noxious and lethal fluid on the front of a bike for one hour, five days a week, after school plus Saturday morning for the princely sum of 50p. Brake too hard and the weight of the drum would send me flying over the handlebars - a lesson I learnt the hard way. I don't want to sound like one of the Pythons' Yorkshire men but it was such a lousy job that you could smell me coming from a hundred yards and by the end of each shift my clothes were lethally soaked - there was no way that I was ever going to take up smoking.
You would have thought that in these austere times of redundancies and unemployment that plenty of kids would be taking a cut in their pocket money and getting told by their parents to get themselves a paper round. But no, it seems that the reason that David is stopping deliveries (and with it a big chunk of turnover -£600 a year from us alone so multiply that by a hundred or more customers) is that he just can't find the staff. It seems that our youth don't want to get up with the lark to earn themselves a bit of extra dosh and the paperboy is a dying breed. I went along to David's nearest competitor to place my order with him. "Do you do deliveries?" I asked. "No" was the reply "we just can't get the kids to do it".
As my days never start without an attempt on my record for the Guardian Quick Crossword (3 minutes 25 seconds) I am faced with major upheaval if I don't get my daily Guardian fix. I will travel a bit further afield tomorrow in the hope that someone out there still does deliveries.
Until then, as it's weekend, I'll leave you with a super little romantic viral video. Whether it's genuine or not I couldn't say but it will warm the coldest heart.