‘We should have walked to Buxton today. It should have been the first stage of the trip to Rome … We’ll do it same time next year .. it’ll be 18 daily hikes before we can catch the Dover ferry to cross to France. And then, well, then it’ll be a mere 96 daily hikes to get to dinner in Rome’ or so I wrote this day last year.
Instead we’re still in our respective homes, CW and me, on opposite sides of the Irish Sea. I’m in Dublin watching squirrels do acrobatics on the bird feeders. Yes, I’m happy to have been called up for my first vaccine this weekend. So I sense the end of the pandemic which may well bring the beginning of the walk. ‘We’ll do it same time next year.’ ManRom2021 will have to be renamed ManRom2022.
I heard our post arrive around 11 and shortly afterwards, there came a few text messages. The chapbooks sent yesterday have already arrived in some homes in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere. I should be delighted.
One WhatsApp message has a video that shows how the envelope has been sliced open, the booklet still inside. And then another photo arrives of a ripped manilla envelope and a scratched chapbook. And more reports of damaged envelopes arrive, cargo intact. Phew.
I call or text various parties and confirm that seven of nine are damaged. I quickly came to understand the message that thanked us for the nice empty envelope.
An Post have done a great job delivering the chapbooks. Unfortunately, for all the right reasons, I bought a load of envelopes made from recycled paper. So the damage is my fault. My desire to introduce sustainable materials into the workflow has scuppered this cargo.
I tested this style of envelope back in February by sending it to ourselves and two others. Ours arrived damaged, the others were fine. The sample of one failure in three was misinterpreted; I was lucky that only one failed. I had misunderstood that there was a design flaw in the envelope.
The 125 gsm manila envelopes are rated by the manufacturer for up to 100 grams. This is the perfect scenario for these books. But the design flaw is that one long edge is not reinforced by a fold or a seal. And it’s only that side that splits. And to think I was worrying about postal deliveries in the rain.
An irony is that I spotted that the adhesive had cured in the heat of the address printing. The glue’s sealing capacity was reduced just enough to give me pause. So I added some tape to be sure the flap would stay sealed. And having done this for those heading off by airmail to the UK, EU, US and Asia, myself and my assistant did them all.
I am very sorry if your chapbook is damaged or doesn’t arrive. Please advise me by email or text if you are affected. I have spares set aside and yours will be replaced promptly at my cost. If you don’t have my contact details to hand, just use this page’s Contact Me facility.