Somebody give the Royal Mail a medal. It is doing ever so well. It continues to deliver letters, sometimes on time, sometimes even in the face of what one could only describe as "quite a lot of rain".
I say sometimes, of course, because this week one sorting office decided to stop delivering to a certain mildly mossy street in Doncaster on wet days after a postman slipped and fell over there.
Now the valiant souls have made a pledge: to keep up the goodish work throughout the Olympic Games. This week, I received a glossy flyer in my postbox headed "Delivering for London". "During the Olympic and Paralympic Games," it said, bursting with pride, "we'll continue to deliver your letters, packets and parcels, six days a week, all over the capital."
Break out the bunting! Let the vuvuzelas sound! The Royal Mail will continue to do its job for 17 days this summer (excluding Sundays and very rainy days). In other news, hospitals will continue to tend the sick, the internet will remain open for clicks around the clock, and you will, repeat, you will, still be able to buy milk. And somehow we'll all try to carry on living our lives even though in east London there will be thousands and thousands of people watching thousands and thousands of other, more muscly people run, jump, dive, shoot, row, and so on, for the glory of their nations.
Why shouldn't the Royal Mail continue to do its job during the Games? Everybody else is hoping to – and relying on services like the Royal Mail to help them do so. Postmen can still do their rounds even as a million spectators descend on the capital and its transport network. In fact, pounding the streets will probably be the best place to be.
Surely the ailing organisation has better things to spend the extra 14p slapped on every first-class stamp than on glossy mailshots. Spurious Olympic-branded advertising is everywhere – men's moisturiser which apparently makes you a better diver; fast food which spurs you to run faster; sanitary towels that help you hurdle, that sort of thing. Bandwagon-jumping nonsense it may be, but it's preferable to the doom-laden tone adopted by the capital's services when it comes to the Games.
Transport for London has already set up an entire website – Get Ahead of the Games.com – predicated on the notion that it will seize up come 27 July, including a blog about things to do near key stations when it's a 78-minute wait until the next Jubilee Line train. Now the Royal Mail expects a pat on the head for manfully getting on with doing what it's supposed to in the face of a Big Event. With 41 days to go, the attitude is more "Bear with us. We'll muddle through. Hopefully!" than gung-ho "Just Do It!". It's hardly the stuff of which champions are made. Team GB, indeed.
It's the solution to a quintessentially first-world problem. A catering company has invented a ruse for hosts who want all the glory of being a Gordon or a Heston, without the hard graft. Or, to put it another way, who want to have their cake, eat it and be begged for its recipe all at the same time.
Housebites, a home delivery service for gourmet meals, has added a "dirty dishes" side order. For an extra £5, chefs will provide a plausible array of dirty pans which you can strew around your Aga to trick gullible dinner guests that you've been slaving for hours, rather than ordering in. On the website, a three-course meal for four, plus encrusted Le Creusets, comes to over £80, not counting the cost of wine or strenuous lies to your supposed friends. You could economise by washing the pans up, which gives you a £2.50 rebate. Or you could just, you know, go to a restaurant.
The angry young men (and women)
Forget the elegant soliloquies of Shakespeare. There's a new theatrical trope in town: the young 'un's rant. The last three plays I've seen all have one thing in a common: a scene where a character stands up and gets really, really angry about the state of things. It happens in Love, Love, Love where the penniless, houseless, childless daughter of a pair of blossoming baby-boomers attacks her parents for ruining her life by selfishly having it all.
It happens in Posh, where one of the toffs sounds off about the mediocrity of modern Britain. ("This has got to be worse than it's ever been!") And it happens in Boys, where one new graduate tells another: "You're never going to earn what your parents did. You're never going to be able to afford the house that you grew up in." All written by young talents under 35, the plays are not flawless but they are of the moment – painfully so. I can't remember a time when the theatre felt so in tune with my generation, so engaged and bristling with life. A moment to savour, then, but my goodness it can get you down after a while.
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