19 March 2009
Letter from Waterloo to Parris
Matthew Parris's shabby diatribe against cyclists last year was the most-complained-about press item of 2008, we learned yesterday. When I read someone's rant against 'smug cyclists' such as that, I don't feel smug. I just feel pleased with myself because I'm clearly superior to them.
Take last night for instance. At 6.30pm, in south-central London, we suddenly had some urgent mail that had to catch the last post. The internet wasn't much help in finding late-delivery postboxes. Royal Mail's site has no helpful information at all; a personal website usefully suggested Waterloo and Nine Elms but looked out of date.
I cycled to Waterloo, to find I'd just missed the final 6.45pm collection at the postbox on the station concourse (right). The postbox says there's a 7.30pm collection at the sorting office on Nine Elms Lane. So I hurtled there, but en route at about 6.55pm saw a Post Office van and a friendly postie collecting from the box on Embankment, so gave the item directly to him. Job done.
Easy with a bike... but on this tight schedule, impossible by public transport or car, and you can't stop a vehicle on Embankment to nip across the road and give your letter to Postman Pat. Perhaps with two people and a car you could do it - one driving, one running out and finding postboxes - but using resources of such military proportions to transport a single letter seems bonkers. I like the sheer physical pleasure of riding a bike, but I also like its efficiency. I've never been a fan of wasting resources, so I'm not going to waste smugness either.
Mind you, I was one of the people who complained about that Parris brainstorm, so I might invest a little there.