There’s one shopping experience in my local town that is so depressing that I felt an urge to have a rant. Every single time I go there I get a cloud of doom shadowing over me. Don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t have to go I wouldn’t, but there are some things that you can only do at The Post Office.
It is not the institution per se – I actually think the Post Office has got, and has done, some great things and I loved my recent trip into the Reading new-look automated, leather seated loveliness. I am actually complaining about a specific local branch – the Henley on Thames Hell Hole:
Even from the outside the experience is dreary. Dark and depressing, there is the crappiest of crap window displays. Admittedly it is better than last year: I was almost driven to volunteering to dress their window for them and to be honest I think the local blind schoolchildren could have done a better job. It looked like some 1950’s post-war attempt at décor: a bit of gift wrap around some shabby furniture and some different-sized packing boxes to show the full extent of their amazing wares. Now it’s not much better, but really, it could not have been worse.
Which leads me onto the inside – the crappiest of crappy internal displays – unloved units with random ranges of stuff that clearly no-one would want. Does anyone buy pens with names on anymore? Or those weird mobile phone “socks”, with your name on it? I love stationery and I can spend hours in WH Smith but here I just want to get out and don’t even feel like rescuing the envelopes.
So why do I go? Well I only venture in when I have something to send off – and I went through a flurry of Ebaying earlier in the year so frequented this lovely place rather too much.
To get to the real part of the post office you have to go up a few steps. Really, great planning that is for the push-chairing yummy mummies and the old and infirm wobbling along with their walking sticks. Nice one. The carpets are dirty and worn, stained by god knows what and so unappealing that even a tramp wouldn’t sleep on it. There are completely rubbish posters on the wall, wonkily fixed by drawing pins – who does that these days? A couple of scary stories about distraction burglaries and a “welcome to a bump club” pregnancy picture. Hmmm, not sure what I am supposed to do with this information. Oh, and as is my want, I check out the framed pictures. Wonky again, standard Henley Pictures. Ugly and unappealing. Grrr if I really cared I would offer to do a commission for them. Even for free.
It’ll come as no surprise that the queues are usually long and slow moving – especially on Saturdays which I try to avoid like the plague – and then they have divided off half the entry point with a random barrier thing which means people queuing get in the way of people trying to leave. This seriously winds me up.
Homemade signs add just that little sprinkling of more crappiness before you have to endure the face to face contact with Les Miserables personified – a motely crew of oldies who have clearly been there for years. I do not doubt that they know their stuff but I think their ability to smile and make pleasantries was part of the role from twenty years ago and no longer a daily routine. Just for info the younger generation at the front of house are just as unappealing. I often have to interrupt their adolescent angst-ridden conversations to ask for a stamp – and intriguingly they did not even know the price of a first class one…
On the plus side – well, I had to find one – I did like Wallace and Gromit on the Christmas stamp, it made me chuckle and actually felt OK about putting that on an envelope.
Oh and while I am on the subject, I thought I would mention:
- First class stamps are going up by 5p from April! (I still don’t actually know how much a single one is).
- Red rubber bands are reproducing on my street. Whilst my stationery fetish is quite well known, I am not sure I want to follow a trail every time I leave the house. “Oi”, “Postie”, “Stop dropping them in my street!”
- My neighbour has just become a postie and his “round” takes him on an 8 mile route – he’s lost 1/2 stone in less than three weeks.
- I had a plan to get nice-looking cards made with one or two of my amazing photos (using moo.com – one of my favourite sites), but could I find a suitable theme – no I could not! I therefore printed off some prints at home and made cards. Very few people actually got one in time for Christmas, so here is the picture, even though it’s a fe weeks late!: