OXFORD'S sorting office was taking a lot of stick for the time it took to deliver mail back in 1969.

But, it had to be said that residents did not all help with the smooth running of the service.

Of the three million or so letters that poured through the Oxford district every week, about one in every 100 was wrongly addressed.

One of the biggest culprits was business: of the 30,000 problem letters a week, they were responsible for about three quarters.

"Christmas time is the worst," said Patric Shepherd, returned letter section manager.

He explained: "People try and get in touch with friends they haven't written to for years. The number of wrongly addressed letters from the public goes up by 10 to 15 times."

In 'anagram corner' at the Becket Street sorting office, two higher-grade postmen Peter French and John George handled wrongly addressed mail full-time.

Mr French said: "Look at this!" while holding up a letter addressed to 'The Cottage, High Street, Oxford'.

He added: "Thanks."