I'm feeling bad today.
I'm going to STAMP and shout
Because you see it's raining hard
So that I can't go out.
Oh I'm a naughty little Noddy
And I don't love anybody.


This was on a 45rpm record we had when children and I've been singing it today. Not because it's raining hard but because of the STAMPS! The price went up, you see, at the start of April, so all my usual calculations don't work and here I am trying to stick appropriate stamps on approximately 180 envelopes. It's trying. It's very trying.

Before, my main postage for posting out one issue of Sphinx, plus bits and pieces, inland in the UK was 66p (second class). I had a method of doing this comprising one first class stamp (36), one second class stamp (27) and three penny stamps. The penny stamps used to cause a problem sometimes because my local post office didn't always have enough of them. I went into town one day and bought ten quids worth. The man had to get them out of the safe, which had a locking alarm. I had to wait until it let him in.

Anyway, all that's by the by now because the postage charges have changed. They have gone up a LOT. My large letter second class postage (which is how most Sphinxes go out) is now 76p (ten pence up). First class is 90p. Sigh.

Sending one to Nigeria (a LONG way away) costs only £1.93, which strikes me as disproportionate when it's 76p to Edinburgh, just down the road. But who am I to comment? I should be grateful I can send them to Nigeria at all. Anyway, that brings me to the issue of how to make up the stamps.

The Royal Mail is obviously not aware that I post out hundreds of packets a year which come into their Large Letter 100g-250gm+ weight. If they were, surely they would produce a stamp -- even two stamps for this weight, one for 76p (large letter second class) and one for 90p (large letter first class).

Actually, there is one for 90p, and there's a reason for that which is nothing to do with posting large letters in the UK: it's to do with the price of a global letter stamp which was 81 and is now 90p. However, sending them all out first class is quite expensive. I spent £150 on postage yesterday, and it won't cover the whole lot. Oh dear, I'm going to depress myself soon.

But this brings me back to my 76p. How was I going to make it up this time? One first class + one second class now comes to 69 which means in penny stamps I'd need another 7. A lot of licking and sticking. The first and seconds come in self-stickable sheets (no licking necessary) but the pennies are another kettle of stamp.

The obvious thing to do is one ordinary second class stamp (30), plus a large letter second (47) which brings me to 77, exactly one penny too much. One penny too much. This seriously annoys me. It's the principle of the thing. Why does the easiest option end up costing slightly more? I go in constant fear of understamping and therefore frequently overstamp. You don't get money back for putting too many stamps on envelopes!

Now there might have been a particularly convenient option, namely one new large letter first (61), plus one 15p stamp. Yes -- exactly 76p! However, the Royal Mail, in its infinite wisdom, has just abolished the 15p stamp. I can't remember what you can get now - 17 or 14. Not 15 anyway. They have been withdrawn. Liz, in the local postoffice (shhh -- this is a secret) sold me 200 of the withdrawn 15p stamps, and that's what I've been using, but I'll never get any more. Never more, never more.

Ironically, local post offices are actively discouraged from selling stamps at all. They are supposed to print labels because that way Post Office Counters, or whatever they are called, makes more money. Guess how long it would take them to print my labels? I'd be standing there for two days. As it is, they already weigh and print all sorts of odd parcels for me. And occasionally hide when they see me coming.

Yes, I know you can print labels online and pay by credit card. You also have to put in the weight and address for each recipient. It would take me even longer sitting at a computer and besides, my address labels are already printed and ready to go, saved and updated with my mailing list. Online label processing may be worth it for Ebay sellers posting parcels which are all worth significant amounts (although to get proof of posting they still have to go into a post office and get them processed).

In my case, hundreds of small value parcels don't seem to fit the online system. My time is the single most valuable thing. But this stamp business is very stupid indeed. Customer friendly? It's customer hostile.