The letters in the post

By David Eade
I have mentioned here before an Edwardian apartment block close to London's Paddington Station. In the main entrance hall is a venerable lift and running down its shaft by the doors is a post chute. It meant that the residents could just go along their corridor and place their letter in the slot and it would flutter down to the porter below.

What is of historical interest is that to this day by the slot on each floor is a list of the times of collection. They were on the hour, every hour running from early morning to mid-evening. Indeed by using the post it was possible to send a letter within London and get a reply the same day.

Even in those days London had a population in the millions. So what bemuses me is if that was possible in the Smoke in the Edwardian period why do my letters, and I stress my because I only write from personal experience, in Gibraltar disappear into an abyss.

Three weeks ago I posted a letter at the Main Street office addressed to a PO Box and deposited it in the box allocated for this mail. It was going to a business and because it receives regular important correspondence it is collected daily. I presume once the letter is posted all the PO Box mail is taken away that day to be franked and then deposited in the appropriate box for collection. So what I cannot understand is why a week passed before the letter was received by the company.

Three weeks ago I posted a letter at the Main Street office addressed to a PO Box and deposited it in the box allocated for this mail. The actual organisation can be clearly seen from the post office entrance and I did consider delivering it by hand. However as I suspected I would have to wait whilst it was dealt with and as I was short of time I posted it instead. As I said that was three weeks ago and it has yet to arrive in the PO Box. Maybe it never will.

Every month I post a letter at the Main Post Office to an address about ten minutes walk away. To date it has always arrived but a snail would get there quicker: it takes days. Why?

There are 30,000 official residents in Gibraltar all living in a confined space. In theory we should have the most efficient postal service in the world. Gibraltar certainly produces stunning stamps but lick one and stick it on a letter and I am stunned at the time it takes to make it across town.

The only post office personnel I have dealt with are the counter staff. In over 20 years of posting mail in Gibraltar I have always found them polite, helpful and indeed on occasions they have gone out of their way to provide the exact service I needed. So I have no complaints there indeed only praise.

So who is lurking the other side of the post box? Why do my letters take so long to arrive, not just now but for the past two decades? If you have an answer please end it to me on a postcard. On second thoughts life is too short, send me an email instead.