Ronald Dart of Sussex realised that he could save a considerable amount by posting the invitations to his daughter’s wedding early. With stamps going up by 15p at the end of the month, and two hundred guests to invite, he could save thirty pounds, so he joined the queue at the post office like so many others. “By the time I got to sending the invite to my second cousin in Jesmond, near Newcastle, I realised something was wrong. I’d run out of lick.”
It’s a story replicating itself across the country, as people panic buy stamps to beat the price hike. Jane Frith of Sheffield, for example is sending out three hundred leaflets for her new yoga class. On the telephone yesterday she was unable to comment, beyond saying “wait a minute, I must get a drink of water.” Others have compounded the problem by watching horror films after a long licking session, and have had to be taken for rehydration at local A & E departments, already reeling from the impact of burns due to Frances Maude.
Salivologist Dr Malcolm Brooke explained that 75% of our bodyweight is water, but most of our saliva glands cannot be controlled consciously. “This means nervous and anxious people are unfairly hit by the stamp shortage. “ He’s been advising the government on what many are saying is a spectacular demonstration of the law of unintended consequences. The coalition government plans to repeal that law, but the parliamentary timetable means that’s unlikely to happen till after the price rise.
Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity with the saliva-challenged , footballers will refrain from spitting on the pitch or at each other in this Saturday's Premiership games. The Championship and Leagues One and Two remain unaffected.
Dr Brooke has suggested Royal Mail post free images of a “mouthwatering” nature on its website, but it’s understood Nigella Lawson has refused to take part in the scheme, after what sources call “a misunderstanding”
Meanwhile Ronald Dart, now employing the last of his lick on his daughter’s impending nuptials, reports that his voice has turned into William Hague’s. He said : “What with the hosepeipe ban, this is the last straw”