Third, postmen have (in my experience) been larcenous. And if they're not larcenous, they're careless, which is equally as bad. (I still plump for larcenous.)
At the risk of henceforth jeopardising all my postal deliveries (not that I'd be losing that much at this stage) from vengeful postie rage, I'd like to suggest that we abolish the Royal Mail. Not post offices – just the Royal Mail. It is heading to obsolescence anyway, and its current strike is helping it along this path.
First, letters are redundant: how many pieces of mail which you receive could not be sent electronically? My main types of post are bills (of which many are already e-vailable), arts season programmes (ditto), the occasional postcard (in lieu of which I'd happily accept a picture text), birthday cards (electronic is fine – it's the thought that counts) and handwritten letters (very very rare).
Second, think of the environmental boon: instead of pointless paper, we would use electricity we are consuming anyway on our computers. Instead of petrol-filled delivery vans, train and airplanes to get things for Southampton to Aberdeen in a day, you can send things via email anywhere and instantly. There is no charm in delay or distance.
Third, postmen have (in my experience) been larcenous: I have lost plenty of things through the post, from friends' invitations to semi-expensive items (which were sent recorded delivery, which only means they can tell you when they lost it). And if they're not larcenous, they're careless, which is equally as bad. (I still plump for larcenous.)
You might object, But what about the elderly who use letters and have no computer? It must surely be cheaper than running an entire postal system with its £10 billion pension deficit, sloppy working practices and out-of-date technology just to buy a small emailing machine for every OAP. It could be as simple as a small keyboard and screen, and instead of writing out a long address, shorter, free email addresses would be available. There is technology for the hard-of-seeing too.
You might also object, What about parcels? But we're seeing how firms get around this – by using dedicated couriers. An avalanche of switched contracts from the Royal Mail will spark competition, which will bring prices down and accuracy up.
Finally, the existing post office buildings should continue to function as community hubs: there is no reason they cannot be turned into local banks for collecting pensions, etc. If they amalgamate the functions of corner shops and such, they can remain at the heart of communities while maintaining employment.
I say we break this damned strike by moving our custom to courier firms (for parcels) and the internet (for letters, cards and bills). We will look back on this strike as the days the Royal Mail doomed itself.
RIP Royal Mail
You can contact your MP here and tell them how much you hate the Post Office.
The picture above should not be taken to imply these postmen are larcenous