Sunday, 4 December 2011

The post man doesn't even ring once


Is there anything these days more likely to lower the spirits than that small red and white card on the mat, c/o the Royal Mail logo, sweetly headed:

“Something for you”

Sounds quite cosy but it’s something that you will probably never get.

The Royal Mail now earns £1 million a day. Its pre-tax profits have tripled since last year when they made a £67 million profit. This is strange because as far as its customers can see, it is an impoverished organisation, on its last legs. Services of the past – several deliveries a day and a reliable first class postal service have gone the way of stage-coaches and swallow tail coats.

When you go into the big post-office in Acton it reminds me of the post-office in Katowice, Poland, when the communists were in; overcrowded, full of angry, resentful people, only two counters open and a sense that what you might be trying to send might not be worth it.

Getting one of their jocular cards through your letter box is worse than going to one of these lousy offices. When the card arrives you have two options. The PO encourages you to have your missing mail re-directed, on line. On their web-site you tick their calendar for another delivery day – they can’t give you a time, probably because they know there isn’t one. Twice I've sat at home all day waiting and waiting and nothing has been re-delivered.

It’s probably best to take the second option - take a bus or drive to the sorting depot, which is even more miserable and crowded than the post-office.

Driving there has its problems. The council has recently tightened up all the parking restrictions outside this office in Ealing, so it's illegal to stop there. People waiting in the long line which snakes past the tiny war-memorial to posties shot in France, around the dirty room and outside onto the pavement, all get neck ache twisting their heads around looking out for wardens, anxiously jangling their car keys, ready to run. The joys of living in present day London.
Yesterday, it happened to me. There it was on the mat, promising a world of stress and fright. It said a “packet,” in fact a large portable halogen lamp for use in the studio, had been delivered at 1350 but I was apparently “not at home.” Infuriating as I was there all day.

At 8am today I rang a postman who used to deliver here, you can never usually get
through to anyone in the post office by phone, but he once gave me his
mobile number as he also does computer repairs and other nefarious jobs on the side.

I asked him about this non-delivery and he put me straight through to the postman who’d left it.

“I knocked but you wasn’t in,” he said nastily. I asked why hadn’t just rung the bell.

“I never ring door bells,” he said. “I ain’t standing around waiting for people to answer bells.”

I knew and he knew that I knew that he hadn’t knocked or rung, just shoved the card through the door and gone back to his cosy van. My post is regularly stuffed through the letter-box on the ground floor.

I heard my voice rising, fighting its way through his layers of thickness. Not a good idea, but he came out with such a load of sad piffle to excuse his laziness.

My “friend” the posty with the phone said the man would bring the “packet” round the next day. But would he? I spent the day full of doubt about this and at the same time I didn’t believe he would appear.

At 2.45pm he arrived. One lamp for the use of. What a relief. Postman Pat, unshaven, no hat or tie, handed it to me sort of sideways, without coming right down the steps, without a word, a rather disgusted look on his thin mouth, as if I’d forced him to do me a big favour.

At least I got it. When I was in hospital a book arrived from E-bay, and a CD of photos from a friend. These were apparently “tracked,” what ever that means but for some reason the RM only holds onto these “Royal Mail Tracked” "packets" for one week. They sent back my book and CD to the senders who never got them, and no one has seen them since.

I've also had a parcel go missing from a safe "cubby hole" outside too. At least it said on the card that the parcel had been put there but the postman who left it, or otherwise, couldn’t be tracked.

I was interested today 4/12/11 to hear the very strange news that this Christmas post-men will not be allowed to accept large gifts, nothing over £30 and these must not be given as bribes, or in hope of a better delivery service than the neighbours.

Do people give their post-men tips? I rarely see them and hardly ever get the same one twice. I don’t know them and I don’t know my neighbours enough to know anything about their postal deliveries.

What kind of people now compete over the post? In this road I suspect that most of us are unemployed, or “job-seekers” as they are now called. It’s nice to think that somewhere there are streets of people working so hard, running such successful businesses from their homes that they have to bribe their loyal mail men to help them. Or this strange pronouncement perhaps shows that the mysterious profits from the royal mail are being used for filling their executives and press spokesmen with hallucinogenic drugs and alcohol.

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