“The Penny Post”

A good few years ago, I remember being told a story by an elderly gentleman about the wonders of the postal service during the First World War.  He was injured in a battle at the Somme and sent back to Blighty to convalesce at a hospital in Much Wenlock in far off rural Shropshire.  His mother lived in London and used to write to him every day and ask what he had for lunch.  By the morning of the following day, over her breakfast, she had a letter back from her son.  They continued this correspondence every day for two years, while he was in the convalescent home. The postman never failed him or his mother.

                                     This was customer service par excellence !

Somehow things don’t seem to have improved since then 😦

I sent a letter in the post last Monday and on Friday it still had not been delivered.  It was a large letter (A4 size) but light (just four sheets of paper inside),no bricks, no ticking clocks.  I put a first class stamp on the envelope, not because it was urgent, but just in case it was over the standard size. 

None of this is good enough for Royal Mail these days.  There are different charges for every letter,  unless it is ‘standard’ – whatever that means!   So now you can’t just post your letter in the post box,  you have to go to the Post Office,  queue while somebody in front of you collects their pension,  then have your letter weighed and individually stamped.   Every letter seems to cost a different and unfathomable amount, which only the person behind the counter understands.  Then it’s recorded in a book – ???  although that doesn’t mean it is a recorded letter – so I don’t know what that’s about;  maybe it is an MI5 thing in these heightened security days.

Finally,  you get to post your letter after 10 minutes in the counter queue, 10 minutes walking to the post office. Then another 10 minutes walking back home.

The next day due to the non-standard nature of my first-class stamped letter it receives special attention.  I suspect it has been intercepted at the destination sorting office and put onto the shelf marked “rule breakers”.  A postcard will, no doubt, be put through the door of the intended addressee telling them they can collect my letter at the central post office, if they waste an hour of their time and pay a fine for my bad behaviour.

At a time when e-mail and private delivery services are threatening the very existence of the Royal Mail, what idiot dreamt up this system?

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3 Responses to “The Penny Post”

  1. Maureen o'Neill says:

    Good morning John,
    I was very interested in your comments. I sent a very clearly addressed large letter, brown envelope to my second cousin, now in her mid 80’s. It contained some family history notes going back to 1880 something. On the back of the envelope was a return address label.On discussing it’s non arrival my cousin wrote this,
    “I feel sure some idiot, temporary postal worker put it through the wrong letter box which must have been that of an uncaring householder. Our neighbour hood remains fairly friendly but also has an element of wealthy types adding extensions etc. and not effectively community minded – as every where I fear.”

    A lot of work had gone into that large letter, and it was properly stamped and no one it seems could be kind enough to return something which could not possibly have interested any one but my family.

    It is a sad reflection of the post office and the world in general I fear. I often think I have lived through the best times – despite a war – people did seem to care about each other then.

  2. John T says:

    I thought the U.S. was the only one which had incredibly inept and incompotent “boob” working at the postal service! It must take a special screening process to find just the right people to effectively screw up the mail delivery. I wonder if it is a worldwide process? I the U.S., nextday delivery means whenever if your lucky. As in most countries the term “government worker” is an oxymoron..

  3. Dear John, Again I hear you cry? Well yes just that! I must concur with your feelings of frustration with the modern postal system. My father a commericial traveller in the North of England working for a London based company would file his daily reports by 19.00 post them in A4 business envelopes (First Class) at the post box at the end of the road. If his missed the time slot he travelled to the local/main sorting office in the Leeds area for a last collection at 22.30. By the next morning he was talking to his office at 09.00 about the orders as sent, which the company could concurr with.
    However apart from the b–ggeration factor of how when and what stamp and then which letter box as of today, I still have a soft heart for our GPO Royal Mail system. Example-My sister on holiday in Brighton sent me a post card posted some 7 days ago. It had my first line of address only a false street and district name, but then the finial line our town/city Milton Keynes: We recieved the card and was glad to do so. I castigated my sister for the duff information and address but complimented her on her sentiments and the kindly thoughts of The GPO. John so long as I am remembered, I will bumble on, Old or not so old.

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