I'm trying to think charitable thoughts about our local postal service but they don't come easily and I hope I will be forgiven for those thoughts that spring unwanted into my mind.
In the early days of the big freeze before Christmas the postman came regularly and the sight of his van was one of the reassuring signs that we were not cut off from the outside world. I confidently ordered Christmas presents online for delivery before Christmas. Then one day he didn't appear, nor the following day. Rumours went round the village: deliveries had failed to arrive at the local sorting office; Health and Safety had forbidden the postmen to venture out. Older members of the community said it was the first time in over 40 years the post hadn't been delivered. The sorting office was closed at 1pm and all staff sent home so we couldn't go there to collect when we realised no-one was coming. The last rumour I heard before I left for the family Christmas visit was that the decision whether to deliver had been left up to the postal workers themselves.
Now the post has been delivered here for far longer than I have been in residence and it has never let us down before, except when the postal workers have been on strike. In the past the postman has extolled the engineering of the postal vans which he said could get almost anywhere in all weather. He finally did arrive before Christmas, but after I had already left, and the thought of all that mail (and the presents) waiting for me was heartbreaking.
Post has been arriving intermittently ever since while I suspect a big catch-up has been taking place. The extended holiday no doubt added to the backlog. Just as I thought we were getting back to normal, I woke up on Friday morning to find several inches of snow on the ground again - and guess what - no post, despite the fact that it was thawing hard by 3pm (the time at which he has started arriving). All of my wonderful helpers arrived here without mishap as they have done throughout the freeze and not all in 4 x 4s. An 80 year old has been up and down the drive every day.
But not the postman! In the post which finally arrived at around 4pm on Saturday is a letter forwarded to me from a Bank dated mid December and sent to the wrong person at the wrong address. It bears the dread words "Please provide the information requested in the next 25 days. ..... If I do not hear from you within the 25 days I will assume that you no longer require the amendment and the case will be closed."
Please Bank, keep the case open! Freezing weather, a two week Christmas break, and wrongly addressed mail which then gets held up in the post is not a formula to get the New Year off to a good start. I shall console myself by watching those DVDs I had planned to give away.
Update Tuesday morning: after several hours frantic telephoning yesterday I am pleased to say that the Bank has agreed to keep the case open while I attempt to assemble the forest of documentation I am required to submit to them.
Emeli Sandé comes to Stokesay Court