This is a rant.

Yesterday I went out in the afternoon to buy a present for my niece’s 4th birthday, which is today. (Happy birthday, Isobel!) I went to the present shop, then to the card shop, then came home. This took about an hour. After a bit I realised it was coming up to five o’clock and I needed to get it in the post. I wrapped the present, wrote the card, addressed it, and stuck it all together. A nice package.

What about posting it? I didn’t have any stamps. Not a problem, I thought, I’ll buy some. So I went to the Royal Mail website and looked up how much postage I needed. I went out, bought some stamps, stuck £2.50 worth on the parcel, and went to the postbox… where of course the parcel didn’t fit.

This might sound a bit silly, but: I don’t send parcels that often, and I’d forgotten that to send parcels you have to go to a post office. By this time it was 5.20 and, needless to say, by the time I got to the nearest post office – about a ten minute walk – it was closing. That was it. I’d failed. Sure, there was a late collection at a sorting office, but it was at Mount Pleasant in Islington – a good 20-minute bus ride away – and even then, i still quite possibly wouldn’t have been able to get the damn parcel in the slot.

Leaving aside for a second the fact that even a quite large post office in a busy area of zone 2 London closes at 5.30 – which is obviously completely fucking ridiculous. I’m not going to weigh in on the staffing principles of a giant nationalised, heavily unionised utility: I’m not fucking stupid. No, what makes me so mad is something simpler:

Why can’t pillarboxes just have bigger fucking slots?

I could understand how, pre-internet, there was no point it making in possible for ordinary people to post more than a letter at a pillarbox. After all, how would you know how much postage to use? But now, you can look up the amount of postage you need online. There’s even a nifty tool where you can pre-pay, if like me you seem to be always buying stamps but never seem to actually have any, and print off a label to stick on. How sensible! But rendered completely fucking pointless by the fact that, if you’re sending anything larger than a fucking cassette tape, you still have to walk ten minutes (or twenty, or thirty, in plenty of places in the UK) to a post office just to get a fucking slot big enough to put it in.

For fuck’s sake.

The problem, I assume, is that nobody wants to tamper with our precious fucking red Victorian pillarboxes. They’re so old, people coo. They’ve been there so fucking long. The one in Manchester survived the IRA bombing, etc, blah blah fucking blah. Well, you know what? I don’t give a fuck. It’s 2011, for fuck’s sake. We need things to fucking work, not just to look like they belong in a Richard Curtis movie. Sure, keep red pillarboxes in some pretty picturesque places where everyone has a fucking housekeeper to take their stuff to the post office for them. But for the rest of us with normal lives, isn’t it more important to save us all a bucketful of hassle than to retain a false air of village-y goodness in streets of neon signs and giant advertising billboards?

Not that you actually have to get rid of the fucking things anyway. How hard would it be to just add a box on the side with a flap and label it ‘parcels’? OK, there’d be something of a theft risk, but you could put up a big sign saying ‘don’t use this for anything valuable’ and it’d at least give people a fucking option.

The point is, at a time when post offices are closing all over the place, it seems pretty fucking logical to try to reduce our reliance on them. And the main thing which about 90% of people in any post office are there to do on any given day is just to send a bloody parcel. So couldn’t we just make it so doing that didn’t have to involve going to the fucking post office?

In summary: Britain is a decrepit, backward-looking absurdity in a state of irreversible decline.

Thanks for reading.

So here are my thoughts on Saturday’s ‘Doctor Who’ if anyone’s interested

James Corden is basically OK when he’s acting and not being his awful self, isn’t he? As a result, this was quite an enjoyable episode for about the first half an hour. But the climax was completely horrible, RTD/Tennant-level horrible.

As for the foreshadowing of next week (spoilers), I was all like ‘it can’t be next week, he hasn’t sent the envelopes!) but then he totally sent the envelopes. Eep. Nevertheless, this is all, essentially, bollocks: why on earth would ‘tomorrow’ be the day he absolutely positively has to travel back to April 2011 (it was implied Saturday’s ep took place some time in 2012 or 13) in order to get shot? Why tomorrow?

Also: it’s adult River Song in that astronaut suit? That’s weird. So instead of it being the actual child we saw in an astronaut suit at the start of the series, revealed to be one of the early incarnations of Melody/River, it’s adult River, and they just decided to dress her up in an astronaut suit so she could hide underwater and ‘surprise’ the doctor even though the doctor knows she’s coming. Oh, what a load of fanny. Also: was Demon’s Run in the future? If not, how is Judi Dench with an eyepatch still alive?

Basically the show is trying to make three things mesh together: ‘River Song is the impossible astronaut,’ ‘River Song is Melody Pond’ and ‘Alex Kingston is really good.’ It’s that last one that I think is ballsing things up. When we saw Kingston emerge from ‘Mels’ a couple of weeks ago I was like, this is the last we’ll see of her, right? The Doctor is moving backwards through her timeline, as always; we’ve gone from her knowing him and him not knowing her to almost the other way round. That’s it now, and we’ll move on to meeting her childhood incarnations, working all the way back to her birth where we’ve already been OK that bit wasn’t entirely thought through. But anyway, that would have been cool, and made the whole River thing a proper, consistent sci-fi puzzle, and given River Song a marvellous tragic quality: her whole life she tries to save the doctor but she already killed him years ago as a child.

So of course, they fuck it up, determined to bring Dr. Elizabeth Corday back for one last hurrah. So now we apparently have a newly brainwashed adult River Song in an astronaut suit shooting the doctor at a pre-ordained time per the bad guys’ bloody arrangement. How very fucking dull.

Next week is going to be just as bad a clusterfuck of disappointment as the end of the last series, I fear. Why does this always happen? GRR.

This is probably a bad idea but

In the wake of all this Wombles Glastonbury nonsense, the thought occurs to me that the time could be right for an actual return of the TV series. Think about it: it’s about creatures who live on a common (close to nature) in South London (very now) and pick up rubbish for a living. It really couldn’t be more on-trend, lifestyle-wise, could it? There could be a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cameo.