Monday, 20 February 2012

Almost losing the will to live.

Our little town has quite a few amenities. One of the most important is that we have kept our Post Office. I choose to get my weekly retirement pension through the Post Office. Yes I know it would be more convenient to have it paid directly into my Bank Account - then I could even get my money from the hole in the wall, although we are lucky that we still have two Banks in the town.
But thinking I was being altruistic I chose the Post Office.

Each Tuesday morning I go down to the Post Office, draw out my money, pay the newspaper bill and then drive to the supermarket for my weekly shopping. Yes, I know it is boring but I am afraid that I am a creature of habit and find it so much easier to carry on my life in this way. Then I go on to my friend, G, and we have a coffee and a chat. We used to have a Danish pastry too but now we are both being sensible!

Tomorrow morning I need a flying start as we have to go and collect my fascinator from the milliner, so I thought it would be sensible to break the habit of the last ten years and go down on a Monday afternoon. When I arrived at the Post Office there was only one desk open and there were eighteen people in front of me in the queue. It took exactly one hour.

When I got to only one person standing in front of me, the man being served at the desk had a huge pile of packets to put through for posting and each one had to be put through separately. The lady in front of me asked him if he intended posting them all and when he said yes she said to the lady behind the desk, "I'm sorry but I think an hour is too long. I just am not waiting any longer." and she stormed off.

Seconds later the second desk opened. Even so, the lady behind me had a shopping trolley full of parcels to put through. What makes monday so special that all these people are putting through such huge amounts of stuff?

Anyway, having got the money, paid the paper bill, driven home and sorted myself out I could not find my card. I came to the conclusion that I must have left it in the machine. So I unlocked the garage, went back, only to find sixteen in the queue this time - and two desks open. Then, luckily, I spotted that the first person in the queue was someone I know, so I was able to pop in front of him and ask and yes - I had left my card. I was soon home again but it had taken up the whole afternoon. This will not have to happen many times before I abandon any altruistic thoughts towards and Post Office and transfer to my bank.

Now to a piece of more cheering news. I heard on the News this evening, ten minutes ago, that they are getting nearer to eradicating Poliomyelitis from the world. They have done it with smallpox - Polio next. There has been such a stringent campaign of vaccination in India - often done by British Rotarian ladies - that no new cases have been reported in the last year. Sadly that is not the case in two neighbouring countries - Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I can vividly remember the first big Polio epidemic around the late forties, early fifties. Many children in the village of Digby in Lincolnshire, quite near to where I lived, went down with the disease and many died or were left maimed in some way. Everyone became terrified of catching it. We stopped swimming in our local river; everything was blamed for causing it. It is so good that a vaccine was developed and is now serving such a worthwhile purpose.

I can also remember when the scourge was TB - or consumption as we called it. Almost every family in our village was touched in some way by the illness. Many people lost sons and daughters. It seemed to target young, healthy people the most. And I remember the Sanitorium in the next village, where patients spent all their time in bed on verandahs in the hope that the fresh air would cure them. Of course, the cure eventually came with the use of antibiotics. It seems as fast as we conquer one thing, another comes along to take its place.


Bovey Belle said...

I can remember an outbreak of Polio in Wales (Cardiganshire I think) back in the 1970s, just as we were due to visit that very town on holiday. We went anyway, but I think the family we went with (who had two sons) thought long and hard about it. In this day and age it is hard to imagine diseases which could affect whole communities so thoroughly, as Polio, Smallpox, TB, Diptheria etc used to do. My g.g.grandmother Bow lost her entire family (3 children under 5) in the space of a week back in the late 1850s. It is hard to imagine in this day and age and it will be wonderful when Polio has been eradicated.

As for the PO, we have a local one (3 miles distant) which is part of a community-run shop now, or the main one in town (20 mile round trip). Perhaps the people with lots of parcels are e-Bayers posting their wares? (Says she, who posted hers today - but only two parcels!)

Titus said...

Oh Weaver, what a day. I can empathise. Doesn't it always seem when we have to change our plans and really need to fit things into a day that everything goes awry! Thank goodness you got the card back though.
We just have the single counter at Penpont PO, so you quickly learn the good times to go in and when the bad times are. To echo Bovey Belle, there are a few people who obviously sell things online who do come in with an awful lot of packages!
On the plus side, it only takes me one minute to walk there, so it's not a huge problem if there's a queue. And the PO is also the tea room...

It is brilliant news on the polio, isn't it. The local day hospital here used to be a fever hospital for TB; people have told me that if you were in as a child your parents couldn't visit - they could only look in through the door.

John Going Gently said...

our po comes back to us ( ONE AFTERNOON A WEEK)

as for the vets and hen
weaver I dont usually take them but I have tried to clear the crop myself and just can't!
poor thing... if they will do the proceedure simply I will go ahead ( ie open her crop up under a quick local) if not I will put the hen down

Anonymous said...

Oh the frustrations of the Post Office! I have one in each little village or small town here but the best one is in the Co-op in Wolverton. They usually have more than two people serving at a time. Several years ago their manager died and they closed the PO for the afternoon so that all the staff could go to his funeral - a lot of customers went too.

Such good news about Polio. I recall a girl in my Welsh hill town having it and had to wear callipers for the rest of her life, poor thing.

MorningAJ said...

Our post office is pretty good. It's a shame that yours lets you down.

Acornmoon said...

Your Post Office experience rang true with me, we have lost our local Post Office so now everyone has to use the main one. I would hate to loose that facility too.

A friend of mine runs an on-line shop she has own franking machine. It is simple to set up and link to your computer.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Overheard a few months ago from the lady who works in my local PO "Good morning, Mr Jackson. Have you got any proof of identification with you?"

H said...

Two weeks ago, a parcel arrived while I was out. Of course, it went back to the main post office and I had to go collect. I 'popped in' on the way to town with my dad.Twenty five minutes later, when I stopped queueing down the corridor and actually entered the sorting office room, I saw that the queue snaked around a barrier and that there were still twelve people in front of me with one window open. I timed the next person to be served. It took four minutes. At that rate I would be another 44 minutes. I gave up.

Marianne said...

I was at school in the 50s. there was a child with a limp or in calipers in every class. Hard to imagine these days. We had to queue all morning to get the new vaccine on a lump of sugar. so glad polio's retreating.

Hildred said...

I thought that polio had been eradicated with the Salk Vaccine, and am so sorry to hear it is still in some countries. When Charles was 27, shortly after we moved to the Similkameen to begin farming in 1951, there was a terrible outbreak of polio in Canada which he fell victim to. He recovered, with only a small drag to his left leg which eventually disappeared, but I am sure that the neuropathy that has disabled him now is a result of this polio.

About the post office, - when they computerized our P.IO. they closed down one of the desks, as they only have one computer, and it takes twice as long if you go at busy times. I have no altruistic feelings at all for the establishment itself, although I do like and sympathize with the clerks.

BilboWaggins said...

I too am guessing it was people who have sold things on eBay.

Will you be going back to your normal Tuesday visit in future?

Dartford Warbler said...

Our village Post Office often has a long queue which can be the cause of much sighing and shuffling of feet. We would be very sorry to see it go, for all the waiting around.

I too remember children with calipers in our village school. One lad could deliver a horrible whack with a swing of his caliper and I remember once being on the receiving end! There was also a poor young man who was wheeled around the village in a huge pram. He had suffered from polio as a child.

Cloudia said...

Yes, I remember the iron lungs, and the first mass inoculations. Then the sugar lumps later I believe. . .

Aloha from Waikiki
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mumasu said...

I have just heard on the news about the india not having a polio outbreak for a year and was very pleased to hear it and want to say hats off to the rotary people who volunteer to go and do this work.

It must have been e-bayers in the post office. My friend works part time in a village po and when hers was threatened with closure it was the e-bayers constant protestations that kept it open. It can be a pain though, an hour, I would have been getting quite restless.

Woo hoo for the fascinator, hope you will post a photo.

Mo said...

I was going to say eBay, but have been beaten to it ;)

Heather said...

Perhaps it pays to be a creature of habit Pat. By sticking to your usual shopping times you seem to avoid all that tedious queuing. At least our Post Office (now consigned to the back section of the Co-op supermarket) always seems to have all cashiers on duty. The bank will quite often just have two - there are four positions - and people queuing to the door.
Medical science has made such huge strides in my lifetime, and I read recently that there are cancer treatments being developed which may one day lead to that awful illness becoming one which patients can manage and live with.

Rachel Phillips said...

Definitely E-Bay people. I always want to know what it is they sell.

I remember the Polio jabs in the mid 1950s, sugar lumps came later. We queued down the street to get the jab, all the family, along with 100s and 100s of other people.

The Weaver of Grass said...

The fact that so many of us remember the polio epidemics shows the average age of bloggers,doesn't it?

Interesting how many Post Offices are in Co-op stores - ours is too.
I had not thought of computer selling as beig a reason for such a queue.

Thank you for participating.