Post office has changed and not for the better

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Features Editor. Call me on 01865 425435

OKAY, here’s the deal... I will happily buy £10 worth of first class stamps, and even throw in breakfast, if someone can properly and clearly explain to me how the city’s central post office in St Aldate’s works?

I haven’t visited this post office in several years as I’ve stopped sending cards at Christmas, but last Wednesday lunchtime I was passing and, at the same time, feeling a strong aversion to returning to work, so popped in.

Suffice to say, 30 seconds later I was chatting to a Big Issue seller outside who, watching me walk out, said: “It’s bizarre isn’t it?”

“Are you kidding,” I replied. “Is it a Ryanair departure lounge, a community health clinic or a Debenhams concession?”

“Couldn’t agree more, sir,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe how many people come out of there shaking their heads.”

Gone, you see, is the simple, straight-forward row of kiosks with rather dull and balding counter assistants – who in their own way were reassuring – only to be replaced by a very unnerving 60 minute makeover of confusing and pointless design.

In fact, I didn’t know whether to sit on one of its faux plush seats and admit to suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (“My name is Jeremy Smith and I suffer from an explosive colon”) or ask for a for massage while waiting to board to my flight to Magaluf.

Not to be dramatic or anything, but I think it’s a disaster, and that’s putting it mildly – like being rushed into the John Radcliffe Hospital and finding yourself on a trolley with two whole sides of beef and a pig, waiting to be sawn and packaged into a Tesco barbecue value pack.

Now, I’m not a difficult man, but in order to win this extraordinary prize (and I may even join you for the brekkie part), you’ll have to supply flow charts, make a PowerPoint presentation, and construct a computerised 3D model showing fire exits and parcel distribution points.

All entries must be in by next Monday and accompanied by a colour head-and-shoulders shot including age and salary bracket.

The editor’s decision may be final but mine won’t be.

On a similar theme, last Thursday I went to wander aimlessly around the HMV store in Cornmarket and to my horror realised it had finally shut.

And astonishingly, it hit me like a box set of Friends (I guess I just never believed it really would close).

Sure, I can now download songs and films from the internet, but truth is – and I’m sure this is true for most people – I still prefer the old-fashioned convenience of being able to cruise the aisles while passing a boring lunchtime or two and pick up the occasional DVD priced especially at £2.99.

Indeed, it’s a thrill I’ll never lose, and with HMV gone, I fear Cornmarket could become a ghetto for buskers, foreign language students and coffee chains.

And just imagine how awful that would be...

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