Watching the succession of adverts for the Post Office, it is easy to be sucked in by image.
Ken and his team portray a homely, pipe and slippers world of street corner post offices, with a mixture of traditional service, bargains and an expanding range of items for the customer. If he were still alive, I am sure Sid James would be stood in the queue, cackling away with the staff.
Television post offices do not have queues 30 strong, nor are they tucked away in the back of a Tesco or Londis supermarket. Recently I needed to post a parcel in Ascot, Berkshire. I checked the Post Office hours in the window of the Martin store in which it is located. Having been informed the post office was open all day, I returned at 1.05pm - to find it closed.
Two members of staff were shuffling paper at the rear, and eventually realised they could no longer ignore me standing dumbstruck at their closed window. "Oh, we're closed for lunch now" was the reply. The sign advertising 0900-1730 was apparently out of date, and a new one on order was yet to arrive. I can't help thinking that it must be possible to hand write something as basic as "The Post Office is closed for lunch between 1-2pm" , but if you work at Ascot Post Office it clearly is not.
Even though it would have taken less than a minute to serve me, rules are rules, so I had to come back after lunch. When I did (the only other post office is miles away) the woman nudged her manager "I can't believe it - its that man who cursed me earlier!"
Someone I don't think Ken would have approved...........