This is a kind of lateral-minded Valentine, but it still comes straight from the heart.
Today I’m writing about the small, informal, unobtrusive, almost secret and yet perfectly open, logistics network that works throughout these valleys. It’s not the same thing as when you tell DPD or Amazon or Hermes to leave the package with your neighbour, though it’s not dissimilar either. It might be the sort of thing that you wouldn’t know about until you’ve lived here for yonks, or then again it might be something that’s been a benefit within the first months of taking up residence.
Nor is it a service to be taken for granted, not at all, since it’s a courtesy that should keep the faithful faithful, as it were. First of all, it’s more of a communication hub than any delivery service could be: the amount of information about local events that’s shared by word-of-mouth in the check-out queue at the Co-op, or in the Post Office counter trail, is staggering. But more than that, sometimes it’s a crucial depot for tangible items.
It’s actually easier to explain with a simple example: you’ve been to the pantomime, and left a scarf on the seat in the excitement of the grand finale and the rush to congratulate the cast. You discover your loss the next day when you want to go out, so you call around or check social media (Allendale area notices, for example) to see if anyone’s reported a missing item at the hall. Sure enough, a scarf matching yours is reported found. How can you get it back without making a special trip at a time convenient for both yourself and the hall’s minder/scarf discoverer, when both of your days are incredibly busy? Easy, it turns out; you have a conversation something like this: “Are you going into the Post Office this afternoon? Oh, well fine, I’ll leave it with Elsie behind the counter with your name on it — or — I’ll ask Jane at the Co-op if she can just hold it for you in the office there”.
Of all the facilities in Allendale, the Post Office/MarketPlace and the Co-op are two places that are guaranteed to be open, between them, from the MarketPlace’s very early mornings until the Co-op’s 7pm closings, every weekday. But they’re not the only depots in this logistics network, of course, just a couple of representative ones. And nobody would want to wear out their good graces, I’m sure. You have to be a good customer, known, to even consider asking for such a service.
A pair of misplaced spectacles, a beloved brooch, a set of keys — anyone can suddenly be in need of a friendly logistics point, and there are many more throughout these valleys: it could be the house of a mutual friend, when you know they’re going to be there. It could be the church — it could be the pub! It could be the Fawside office at Allendale Village Hall. It all depends on what your mutual schedule is for the day, and your own personal network, doesn’t it? And how or if the package will be wrapped, its idiosyncratic value just to you, and everyone’s overall convenience.
And that’s why this little entry today is a Valentine’s Day greetings card to local logistics of both intangible and tangible varieties, to neighbourliness, to courtesy and mutual good will among friends and neighbours and those we love, especially around and about the houses in Allendale Town, when we look out for each other.