Christmas time. I love almost everything about Christmas. Except the trip to the Post Office. In these days of email and web, the Post Office can be avoided for almost the whole year but Christmas inevitably necessitates a trip to post parcels.
Our local post office is a rather frayed and dog-eared affair wedged into the corner of a newsagent and stationers (one of those that looks like WH Smith but isn’t) and staffed by equally frayed and dog-eared staff whose pace of operation might best be described as glacial (though I understand that some glaciers can easily cover several centimetres in a single year).
I joined the inevitable queue with resignation and whiled the time away with my Economist iPhone app. Ahead of me, next to advertisements for the local monumental mason (phone ahead, you may not make it to the front of the queue) and hearing aid suppliers, I could see new, Christmas-themed information posters. In a triumph of aspirational marketing, the organisation has adopted the strap-line, “the People’s Post Office” which adds to the Soviet demeanour of the place.
The queue snaked back into the shop where parcel-laden customers could pass the time reading the rows of birthday cards. Further up, I could see the racks labelled Mum, Dad, Grandmother. Next to me, the sign – transporting me to sub-tropical theme-park lines – helpfully advised me how long I might wait. It said, “Ages”.