Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Wandering Around.

I was wandering up to the Post Office today so that I could have a letter weighed and measured under the new Mengele-like directives for pricing and sending post by size as well as weight. Counter staff now have to produce a plastic sheet with pretend post slots in it and smilingly push your letter through before weighing it and concocting a price. Only the smallest letters are exempt and even these I have had problems with before as a counter personage tried pushing it through the slot the wrong way round. Hundreds of years of rectangular envelope tradition counting for nothing when confronted with a pretend letterbox and a big bucket of stupidity.

Talking of buckets of stupidity, let me share with you my conversation this morning with British Telecom. I enquired as to whether the engineer will still be coming to my new house on the appointed day to install the line. One cannot be too sure. Yes, was the answer, but could I provide a contact number for the man to call when he was close by. No, said I, I have no mobile 'phone. Ah, said he, in which case he will phone you on this number, from which you are calling. But, said your brave hero, I will not be there, I will be awaiting him some many miles away. Could you, he asked, not stay there and then drive to the new address? No, said I. Then, he enquired, could I not ask a neighbour to receive the call and say that I was in. No, this would be odd. After forty five minutes - forty five minutes, Gunga Din - I was told that this was fine but only a senior manager could dispense this exemption.

It has been fruitless telling you all this, really, but I get so irritated with having to conform to the whims and directives of companies so tied up in their own red tape that they actually cease operating as public services and become too concerned with meeting targets to operate effectively. Any comparisons with the Church of England are in your imagination.

Holy Trinity Platt, in South Manchester, a community which allies itself to GAFCON, has this witness in the middle of the largest concentration of Asian businesses in Manchester, sandwiched in between a hundred halal take aways and restaurants. The sweetcorn van seems to have covered it effectively. As I will miss the little Theological College in Rusholme with its balmy courtyard and hysterically biased library I have taken to toddling around lately, much taken with the Tee Total hotel with a new neon sign saying 'non alcoholic' outside!

I was also briefly in Liverpool, a city which I always find confusing, even though I find the accent of the womenfolk pleasing. The men sound like they have a mouth full of inverted whistles, but there we are. I love the architecture surrounding the arteriel roads going to the docks in Liverpool, all puffed up yeomanry and London Georgian, slightly tatty though and sunning to seed, it reminds me of Euston fifteen years ago. Many of the pubs still seem open and not too many have for sale signs on them, clearly they do better than those in Manchester which have been devastated by the smoking ban and the sudden availability of cheap drink in the supermarkets.