Anne Diamond speaks to Sonning resident Uri Geller about the village bridge and the mysterious postbox
PUBLISHED: 13:51 11 November 2013 | UPDATED: 13:52 11 November 2013
Sonning resident Uri Geller insists to Anne that he didn’t add a little extra to the village’s bridge, as the strange story travel round the world
A little tiny piece of Berkshire has gone global – and all in the blink of an eye. It’s a lovely story. One day, someone somewhere will turn it into a full-blown whodunit or maybe even a ghost story. It’s set in the glorious, quintessentially English village of Sonning, where there’s a tiny hump-backed bridge crossing the fast flowing Thames.
Either side of the bridge there are pretty houses and inns, a fabulous restaurant theatre and some wonderful pubs – most with river views. In the summer, it’s utterly gorgeous, the sunlight dappled by the wind-blown willow leaves. In the winter, it can feel a little damp and bleak. Motorists often curse the traffic lights that control cars over the bridge, because it’s so narrow it can only take one travel flow at a time.
Then people started to notice – a letterbox had popped up in a very unusual place. At first, there was hardly a reaction. But gradually, the buzz started to grow. Just what was that bright red Royal Mail postbox doing on the bridge – under the roadway, on one of the central pillars – where only a carefully steered boat could reach it? A quizzical passer by rang their local radio station. Another asked the police. Before long, one of the local parish councillors was scratching his head. Where had this postbox come from? How long had it been there? And why? I became aware of the whole mystery the morning it went viral on the internet. The BBC reported it and within seconds it became the most read story on the BBC news website. In the parlance of the new tech age, it trended on Twitter. Never mind what was happening inside the White House, the Kremlin or number 10 Downing Street, everyone right around the world was talking about the mysterious (and utterly useless) Royal Mail postbox on Sonning Bridge.
Was it a silly prank? Anything at all to do with the impending government announcement that Royal Mail was going to be privatised? A protest by a local postie perhaps?
One name kept coming up as a possible suspect – millionaire Sonning resident Uri Geller, who became globally famous for bending spoons. Was it one of his media stunts? I rang him, and he professed total innocence though he did acknowledge that he’d had phone calls and emails from all over the world asking if he was indeed responsible and why he’d done it. He reckoned it was the work of the local ghost, the apparition of a little girl called Isabella, who’d drowned in the river back in Victorian times. Though no-one else seems to have heard of her.
It’s still a mystery – though I am waiting any day for the blockbuster horror novel to hit my desk, about a murderous postman in a rowing boat with a little girl called Isabella and a letter to post. Only one thing is for sure. The post box has got to go. The bridge itself is a listed monument and cannot be tampered with. And I reckon they should put up a CCTV camera – just in case we could snatch a sighting of any further local skullduggery. I’ll keep you posted.
Listen to Anne on BBC Radio Berkshire, 95.4 and 104.1FM, from 10am to 1pm