SOPHIA MONEY- COUTTS MOD­ERN MAN­NERS Are posties scared of door­bells?

Re­triev­ing missed de­liv­er­ies is a night­mare, es­pe­cially at this time of year, so I have a cou­ple of wild sug­ges­tions to solve the prob­lem

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - The Sunday Cook -

Here’s a fun game: how many postal slips about missed parcels do you cur­rently have lit­ter­ing your kitchen ta­ble? I man­aged to clock up four this week, all boss­ily telling me that I wasn’t in for my de­liv­ery (I was, ac­tu­ally, but we’ll get on to that in a tick), and that I now had to shuf­fle to four dif­fer­ent places to col­lect said parcels.

On one of the slips, the de­liv­ery man (or woman!) had ticked a box say­ing they’d left my par­cel in a “safe place”. Un­der­neath that, they’d scrib­bled where this safe place was. “In the bin,” it said, so I went out­side my flat and rum­maged to re­trieve my Ama­zon par­cel, which had soaked up some of the bin juice in the mean­time, al­though this luck­ily hadn’t been ab­sorbed by my copy of Max Hast­ings’ Viet­nam in­side. Poor Max Hast­ings, I don’t imag­ine he’d en­joyed his spell in the bin very much at all.

One of my parcels had been de­liv­ered to the lo­cal post of­fice, a five-minute walk away, which was tire­some since it was a heavy case of Aldi cham­pagne (£11 a bot­tle, an ab­so­lute steal and it’s de­li­cious, get it quick). An­other was in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent sort­ing of­fice which al­ways has a queue even longer than the one at the doctor’s. The fourth had been left at a house a few doors down.

Tak­ing a par­cel in for a neigh­bour is of­ten prob­lem­atic, too. A cou­ple of weeks ago, I took one in (funny how you’re al­ways in for your neigh­bour’s parcels, but never your own), but then had a busy few days, so ev­ery time this neigh­bour came to col­lect it, I was out. He posted in­creas­ingly plain­tive notes through my let­ter­box – “I’ll be in tonight if there’s any chance you’re around?” until fi­nally, about a week later, I took it over. Do you re­mem­ber Mrs Gog­gins, Post­man Pat’s grey­haired post­mistress? I am much less ef­fi­cient than she was.

To end this de­liv­ery may­hem, I have a cou­ple of wild sug­ges­tions. One, that de­liv­ery peo­ple ac­tu­ally ring your door­bell or knock on your door. I have been in all week re­cov­er­ing from a mi­nor op­er­a­tion; I’ve barely left my sofa. Was I sup­posed to tele­path­i­cally guess when some­one was hov­er­ing on my doorstep? Why do they not just ring? Are we see­ing the rise of a weird, new strain of post­man who’s afraid of door­bells? I un­der­stand that some peo­ple have ter­ri­ble jin­gles as their bell, or they’re ner­vous about alert­ing a dog or wak­ing the baby, but if you’re wor­ried about such things, why not con­sider a new job as a li­brar­ian?

My brother, a ma­gi­cian who works from home (wiz­ards don’t have of­fices), has an al­most daily stream of parcels from magic web­sites and has taken to writ­ing a note that he sticks to his let­ter plate, promis­ing that he’s in and with his mo­bile num­ber to ring if there’s no an­swer. But that seems an ex­treme so­lu­tion.

Se­condly, we could re­turn to the high street. Mr Sports Di­rect, Mike Ash­ley, lamented the death of it this week and called for an on­line shop­ping tax to drive us back to real shops. I’d rather dis­cuss the North­ern Ir­ish back­stop for an­other 500 years than head to a phys­i­cal shop at this time of year, but he may have a point.

Fa­ther Christ­mas merely has to force him­self down a few chim­neys, I thought, as I fi­nally col­lected my parcels, trudg­ing from one des­ti­na­tion to the next with my postal slips in hand as if they were clues on a trea­sure hunt. He has it easy.

T

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