It’s up there with the absence of one rate for a railway ticket, isn’t it? Complete and utter madness, queues in the Post Office, moaning and groaning. If you use a foolscap envelope, the envelope is too large sideways to be counted as a letter. It’s a packet. If you put too much in an envelope, it won’t squeeze through the slot provided, and has to be a Large Letter. There isn’t anyone in the British Isles who has any idea what it costs to purchase stamps any more. You just go to a Post Office, if you can find one, that is, and you pay up. The person in the queue in front of you will inevitably have every shape and size available. It makes me think of the late and great Richard Brautigan’s wonderful short (very short) story ‘Complicated Banking Problems’ in his collection Revenge Of The Lawn, one of the best books of the twentieth century, in which a queue in a bank into which he wishes to deposit some money in the form of a cheque turns into a line of characters including a pair of Siamese twins who have absurd amounts to withdraw and to enter. There’s a line in the story something like ‘My cheque was sweaty, as if it had been written in 1929’. That’s how I feel when I want to post something trivial but maybe, senor, just a leetle overweight.
Now I can see that I am breaking my own Stalinist line on commodities, since I can be found in this blog somewhere arguing that we should only be allowed one shape and make and colour of car, and that is, I admit, a revealing insight into my hatred of choice. There is a bit of Ceausescu in me. But not when it comes to the posting of cards and letters and parcels. That really is taking the biscuit. Interestingly, I think it is a wheeze invented under New Labour, whereas the multiple-option railway ticket is Conservative. A dog’s obeyed in office, as Shakespeare put it. He was right there.
Ranty moods don’t suit me. They do my health no good. They make foam just a little, and they make me clench my fist.
There is a web-site which shows you how to make a train journey cheaper by buying tickets for stages of the journey, and staying on the train. There is scope for a web-site which shows you the cheapest way to send a series of pieces of post. It’s hard to envisage how it would work, but I do wish somebody would give it a shot.