22nd March

Are You Posting Safely?

‘You’ll need to sign a declaration,’ the woman behind the post-office counter said.

‘Declaring what?’ asked the man who’d handed over the parcel.

‘That you’re not sending anything dangerous.’

‘What constitutes “dangerous”? There’s a letter in there containing some pretty inflammatory language.’

‘Anything that’s in this,’ she said, pushing a leaflet under the glass.

He looked at the various images depicting firearms, aerosols, dustbins, rodents and human remains. He pointed at one. ‘Is that a horseshoe?’

‘I think it’s a magnet.’

‘So I could send a horseshoe? A horseshoe could be dangerous, in the wrong hands.’ He opened the leaflet. ‘There’s even more inside.'

‘It’s supposed to be comprehensive.’

‘It’s certainly that.’ He continued reading. A queue began to form.

‘What’s in the parcel?’ the woman asked.

He looked up. ‘That’s between me and the recipient.’

‘If you could tell me what’s in it, I could tell you if it’s a prohibited item.’

‘I’m checking that now. That’s why you gave me this, isn’t it?’ He read some more. ‘Has anyone ever actually admitted to you that there was a rocket or a consignment of heroin in their parcel?’

‘That’s not the point.’

‘That’s exactly the point. Normal, law-abiding people are being asked to declare that they are not idiots or criminals. If I’m posting a submachine gun to an accomplice in Virginia I’m hardly likely to admit it, am I?’

The woman looked again at the parcel. ‘This is going to Virginia,’ she said.

‘That’s right. Virginia is where the CIA has its headquarters. Does that make you suspicious?’

‘Look, I’m just doing my job.’

‘We’ve heard that one before.’

‘Come on,’ someone in the queue called. ‘This is ridiculous.’

‘I concur with the voice from the stalls,’ the man said. ‘However, so as not to delay the transactions of my fellow citizens, I will step aside in order to read this document more closely. I would be grateful for the return of my parcel.’

‘You don’t want to send it?’

‘Oh yes, I do. I will be back.’

The woman passed the parcel through the hatch. ‘I think you’re making rather a meal of this,’ she said.

‘You started it,’ the man said.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harmonium: Kit Downes
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