Simon Kelner: The A-Z of Britain in stamps? I want to see them all

Kelner's view

Share

Philately has never got me anywhere, although my early interest in stamp-collecting means I still take an interest in matters relating to postage stamps. As a boy, I loved everything about stamps: they were like miniature works of art (the good ones, anyway), and I found them a much more interesting and engaging way to learn about geography.

Plus, of course, they were quite useful when you wanted to send a letter (in those days, email was so futuristic that it hadn't even appeared on Tomorrow's World, the TV programme that showcased all sorts of unlikely inventions, such as digital alarm clocks and toasters).

I was too young and unsophisticated to have heard of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but, to me, the postage stamp was a classic example of form following function. It was always a big thing in my young life when a new set of stamps was issued: I can clearly remember an excited trip to my local Post Office on the day in 1966 when the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings was commemorated by a collection depicting the Bayeux Tapestry.

Stamps were a way of expressing national pride, from victory in football's World Cup to the completion of the Forth Road Bridge to the glory of the Post Office Tower. This celebration of the best of Britain is what's behind the issue of Royal Mail's latest collection, the A-Z of our national landmarks. The 26 first-class stamps – yes, you'd better start saving up for them now – have been designed to depict some of our great visitor attractions, from the Angel of the North to London Zoo, and have obviously been selected in a politically correct fashion, ensuring a fair representation of all regions of the United Kingdom.

As far as I can see, the only contentious inclusion is the Kursaal amusement park in Southend. Although this was one of the world's first purpose-built pleasure palaces – dating back to the very beginning of the 20th century – and gave its name to the Kursaal Flyers, a pop band of the mid-1970s, you wouldn't imagine that it's on the must-see itinerary of many tourists. "Essex culture immortalised" was how one sceptic put it on Twitter yesterday, while some felt that Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow would have been a more suitable representation of the letter "K".

You could argue all day long about what should, and should not, have been included, and when it comes to tourist attractions you can do the entire alphabet without leaving London. Speaking personally, I was delighted to see Manchester Town Hall – one of Britain's most majestic examples of Gothic architecture – make the cut, and I was also pleased to discover that I had visited – or seen, first-hand – 15 of the 26 landmarks featured on the stamps. However, this only made me want to complete the set (the old stamp-collector's mentality). I particularly like the look of the two Northern Irish sites, Narrow Water Castle and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

Royal Mail gets a lot of stick these days – particularly over charging the equivalent of a second-hand car for a first-class stamp – but, in terms of promoting British tourism, their new stamps will be more effective than any number of TV ads with Twiggy or Jamie Oliver.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Merger and Acquisition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN TAWe are looking to recrui...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A long way to go before we reach Dave Eggers's digital dystopia

Memphis Barker
 

August catch-up: dress to impress, words to use more often, and the end of the internet

John Rentoul
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis