Victorian Ditch Trauma

I have been much enjoying the Times Archive Blog recently. Old news can be so much more appealing than new news – that is, news – particularly when, as in this case which I belatedly bring to your attention, it features a postie toppling into a ditch, a scene that could come straight from a Hooting Yard story:

About noon on Thursday as a labourer, in the employ of Mr Cooper, of Pyrford – a village about seven miles from Guildford – was passing through Pondfield, in the neighbourhood of his master’s farm, he espied an object in the ditch, which attracted his attention. On examination the object, which was nearly covered with snow, turned out to be a man named Tappin, the messenger who delivers post letters in the outlying districts of which Pyrford and Wisley form part. Mr Cooper was at once communicated with, and he speedily arranged for the delivery of the letters, while with equal promptitude the messenger was assisted from his bed of snow, where he had been for some hours. Tappin’s account is that he got into the drift and pitched headlong into the ditch, when he was too exhausted to extricate himself.

As the Times’ archivist notes, how pleasing it is that the reporter assures us of the safe delivery of the post before mentioning the rescue of the hapless Tappin. I suspect strongly that, almost a century and a half after his ditch trauma, Postie Tappin may be resurrected as a Hooting Yard character.

5 thoughts on “Victorian Ditch Trauma

  1. For additional (avant la lettre) Hooting Yard ditch-sprawling action, or inaction, one cannot recommend Samuel Beckett’s ‘Molloy’ too strongly.

  2. R : Indeed. I would go so far as to say that familiarity with “Molloy” is crucial to a full understanding of Hooting Yard. It was a key text for the teenage Mr Key of long ago.

  3. This is good to know.

    >for the teenage Mr Key of long ago.

    I suppose ‘for the teenage Master Key of long ago’ doesn’t read quite right, unless one wants overtones of Skeleton Key to come to mind as well, a Beckettesque memento mori …

  4. R : Congratulations. Your comment immediately above is the one thousandth comment to appear on Hooting Yard since their enabling in February 2007. I am sure there is a prize, and when I have worked out what it is, I will let you know, and award it to you.

  5. Something of relevance from Pyrford…

    The Pyrford Stone, in common with many other standing stones, is reputed to move around at midnight. The Stone was originally in the centre of the road, but was moved in 1976 when the road was widened. It is said that the Pyrford Stone measures one megalithic yard. On icy mornings it is not unusual to see a car in the ditch here, (maybe the Stone plays tricks in return for the disrespectful treatment it received) – drivers take care!

    Could it be that Postie Tappin was the victim of The Pyrford Stone…?

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