Puzzles for Postmen

Featured on the BBC One Show (June 2015) with presenter Angelica Bell.

I’ve always had a fascination with the Royal Mail. How a letter can physically travel from one end of the country to the other for just 57p is still brilliant (you can’t even buy a Double-Decker chocolate bar for that price).

For the past five years I have been challenging the British postal system by writing and sending cryptic addresses on envelopes. From maps and symbols to word-searches and drawings of the destination, they never fail to deliver and I have a growing admiration for their patience and perseverance.

Puzzling post has been a hobby of mine for quite some time and I am always delighted when the post office writes and draws little messages in return. One envelope had three addresses to various friends’ homes with a little biography about each of them. It invited the Royal Mail to ‘Choose the person who best deserves to receive this letter’. When it arrived I was surprised to hear that there was a written conversation across the envelope where postal staff across the country had diverted its destination in a sort of debate. The final address had a giant pink heart drawn over it in crayon. 

For me this sums up the Royal Mail; an efficient machine with a very human spirit and a great team of people dedicated in delivering every letter they receive. Somehow I very much doubt that any other postal service in the world would embrace badly addressed envelopes in such an eccentric and light-hearted way.

To see the envelopes from the project visit my blog  Puzzles for Postmen.

– Filmed and edited by Jamie White
– Inspired by Harriet Russell


Hear the recording of my talk 'Pushing the Envelope' at the British Postal Museum & Archive below.