Friday, 29 August 2008
The End of a Special Place
Some places feel special as soon as you walk into them. Our local post office in Balham High Rd was one of those. Cramped and a bit scruffy, it radiated warmth and helpfulness to the many local residents who used it, some every day, for the small but essential services of pension withdrawls, bill payments, the submitting of official forms and the posting of letters. To go there was to be almost certain that you would find someone to talk to in the queue, such was the convivial atmosphere generated by the highly educated family who ran it for many years - the Mazumdars - who came from India in 1967. Mrs Mazumdar was always behind he counter, smiling, helped by Victor, while her husband managed the sales of cards and envelopes in the front.
Now it has been shut down - one of the more than 2,500 local post offices that are being closed by the bureaucrats in Whitehall. True, other post offices exist not far away, but are either much less convenient for elderly residents on foot, or are large and soulless places where people wait in desultory queues for insufficient service, and no one talks to anyone else except to complain.
On 29th August approximately 700 people came to the little post office at various times during the day and were given Indian food and cake while they paid their respects and reaffirmed their opposition to the closure. Most had signed the petition taken last year to keep it open, but their voices had gone unheeded. Further loss of respect for government has been added to the sad chill this unnecessary closure has thrown over the local community.