True Gripes: Out to lunch: Deliver us from Post Office foolishness

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Postcards cheer me up, cheques inspire something approaching a dyslexic hornpipe in the hallway and bills make me want to hit the bottle. But even the stuffy red ones telling me that I'm about to be disconnected prompt mediocre despair in comparison with a little white card.

It looks innocent enough, plopped there on the decomposing mat of plaited coconut straw, but pick it up and all dread is irrevocably cemented; it is a maddening 'We called today' card. The crumpled sliver of former tree, with a footprint and an illegible signature, boldly questions your right to have vacated your residence. 'But you were OUT,' it screams accusingly.

OK, it was a mistake to go to work today. I should have guessed that someone would call to read the electricity. But no, this was no official making a bid to remove his glasses and wince at my antique meter, but notice of a parcel on its way to me.

A parcel. Now that's better. And from Paris. Do I know anyone in Paris? No fervent lover springs to mind. Perhaps cousin Doris, who pledged to send something French from France as soon as she'd settled in as au pair to the Poinsots. Camembert? Doris knows I'm addicted to it. Voila]

The thought of it tastes good, but then reality sets in. The parcel might contain a hundred Camemberts but I still have to get hold of it.

I read the back of the card. I can have the parcel redelivered on any day - but foolish creature, I am not in during the day; I can con someone else into traipsing a mile to Highbury's main depot - but I like my friends; or hey there, I can pick it up myself but only during the hours when I am at work. Am I the only person who gets parcels and goes to work?

Where are these people who write these stupid cards? At least half a century behind it seems, fossilised in the golden days when Man went to work and Woman, she stay home and do the ironing.

A spark of brilliance. Why can't the Post Office re-deliver my parcel at work? I can hardly wait for morning. The end of eternal frustration is in sight. Engaged. Engaged again and then after 21 plaintive rings I get someone who has just got out of bed. Yep, they can do it. They can deliver parcels to an alternative address. Yes, madam, they can even deliver my parcel to where I work. Hmmm, but silly me, of course my work address is in a different postcode area. Postmen in N5 it seems, will have nothing to do with postmen in WI. Stumped.

What the hell, the cheese can rot, grow furrier and furrier. I'll buy some Camembert in Berwick Street.

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