Susie Rushton: There's no magic in the mail now

Urban notebook: The digital age has ruined me, a keen stamp-collector at the age of eight
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The Independent Online

Rifling through the junk mail yesterday, I realised that I couldn't recall the last time I'd actually bought a stamp, fixed it neatly on to the corner of an envelope and posted it into a pillar box. Occasionally, it crosses my mind to make use of the Royal Mail's magisterial coverage and send a card to the other end of the country for a mere 36 pence (the price of a first-class stamp – no, I didn't know that either). But the digital age has ruined me, a keen stamp-collector at the age of eight. Today, postcodes are only for Streetmap searches; my address-book contains telephone numbers.

Walking through the little craft market at St James's church on Piccadilly earlier this month, I found myself picking up packs of Christmas cards with scratchy drawings of snowmen and angels, only to realise that I don't know a single friend's postal address any more (they'll get Facebook Santas instead, which is no consolation to any of us).

Flowing in the opposite direction, an infrequent Amazon parcel or magazine subscription aside, the post these days brings me only bills, and rarely pleasure. I'm pretty sure most people my age, and younger, feel the same way. As ministers ponder the future of the Royal Mail this week, it's surprisingly hard to summon up sorrow at its inevitable privatisation. When real-mail no longer brings news from people we really care about, it loses its status as a true social service.

Royally bewhiskered

Prince William has grown a beard. The weekend papers tried to make sense of this discombobulating news by placing it in the context of historic Windsor stubble, from Charles's youthful hairiness to George V's fulsome muttonchops.

William's excuse (and every hetero beardie has one) is that he stopped shaving while on an anti-drug smuggling exercise in the Caribbean but the truth, I reckon, is that he thinks it looks really cool.

As well he might – Seventies-style facial hair has been the male grooming statement of 2008, from the red carpets of Hollywood to Soho's Old Compton Street. Strangely, then, if William's inclination to grow a big, grizzly beard is inherited from anyone, I'd say it was from his unabashedly trendy late mother ...

Mind the doors ...

The daily Tube traveller is accustomed to dodging the guillotine slide of the carriage doors – and to the driver's voice over the tannoy when a passenger deliberately blocks their closure at a station. Currently, if doors are stuck open because of a fault, staff must walk down the train and ease them closed.

Now, in a bid to reduce delays, commuters will be instructed over the intercom to shut any jammed doors themselves – even if the train is speeding through a tunnel. This sounds like an interesting idea. Why don't we sweep the platform, do a bit of crowd control and give directions to lost tourists, too?