Ringo Starr's announcement that he's going to stop reading and answering his fan mail is certainly a shock--and not only because that means that anyone who fondly recalls him from his days narrating the adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine on Shining Time Station and has dreamed of getting an autographed photo of him in his train conductor's outfit is now out of luck.
Now there is a part of me that would like to think that Ringo's decision, which came in a brief statement in which he said that "I have too much to do," may have to do with an understandable sense of mortality; after all, we've just seen the passing of the man who replaced Ringo on Shining Time, George Carlin. Apparently, though, over the last few decades, the ex-Beatle (oh, did I forget to mention he was once in a kinda famous rock group?) has been shouting "I've got blisters on me fingers!" not because of any drumming issues, but because of all the scribbling he's had to do writing back to a gazillion people mostly on account of … The Simpsons?!
It seems that back in 1991, the plot of an episode of The Simpsons centered around Marge finding an old painting that she'd done of her favorite Beatle and mailing it to Ringo, who not only opens the package and puts the picture up on his wall, but writes Marge back to tell her how much he likes it.
Significantly, Ringo is depicted on the show conscientiously replying to every single piece of fan mail that shows up at his door. "They took the time to write to me, and I don't care if it takes 20 years, I'm going to answer every one of them," he vows.
I trust you can see where this is going: After the Simpsons episode first aired, Ringo's fan mail probably took a quantum leap, and I guess any time it's rerun--and considering how many times it's on every day just on the cable system where I live, that could be every few weeks-that old Yellow Submarine mailbox out at the Starr house gets stuffed with new missives from folks who believe that the Ringo character on the Simpsons was/is "real" and thus expect him to write them back.
Can you blame the poor guy? I mean, I know life imitates art, but as Homer would say:"D'oh!"