Christopher Fildes

We do our best to measure our pleasure but somehow it’s lost in the post

We do our best to measure our pleasure but somehow it’s lost in the post

The postman who calls at 30 Able Road may be a new urban myth but, as myths do, he tells a story. The people at number 30 found that they were getting post for 30 Baker Street, 30 Charlie Avenue, 30 Dog Mews, 30 Easy Street and so on. When they compared notes, they worked out that this postman could read Arabic numerals but was still at sea with English street-names. Disbanding the old guard and taking on helpers like this under contract must have given a boost, however temporary, to the Post Office’s finances. This week its omnipresent chairman, Allan Leighton, will take some time off from stalking Sainsbury’s to announce a modest profit, and to claim that it is meeting its targets for the delivery of letters. These targets, I imagine, have the blessing of Mark Thomson, the Post Office’s director for sales and customer service. Earlier this year he sent out what I described at the time as a smoochy letter of his own, announcing his plans to abolish the second daily delivery, which for most of his customers had vanished long ago. What he abolished was, of course, the first delivery. The post, or someone else’s post, is now delivered in the afternoon, so that those who leave home in the mornings — for instance, to go to work — find that an extra day has been built into the timetable. On those terms, the mailcoaches need never have lost the contract to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Seventy years later — that is, a century ago — when the Mawddwy Railway was in difficulty, it still got the post to remote Dinas Mawddwy twice a day on a hand-operated trolley. That is not Mr Thomson’s idea of customer service.

Statistic? Hedonistic

I wonder how Gordon Brown rates the Post Office’s hedonics.

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