Architects who are at the top of their profession rarely design city centre newbuild flats. They are too busy erecting huge, thrusting skyscrapers, or creating unusable public libraries. Their sights and hearts are set on RIBA awards, rather than comfortable, sensible homes. They leave that to the work experience, who completes this task reluctantly in the pub at lunchtime, whilst sulking, and spilling lasagne on the plans. This is the only excuse I can come up for the worst aspect of such flats; the communal post room.
It’s astonishing, but designers never envisaged the following: that a lock on the door might be helpful, that people might steal letters from their fellow residents by dipping their filthy little hands in the shallow boxes, or just help themselves when letters are left carelessly poking from the postbox.
They are made this way to save time for the poor beleaguered postman, who would otherwise have to deliver the letters through our front doors, which is clearly an onerous and outrageous suggestion. In Glasgow, where tenement flats rarely have lifts, various official bodies have noted that post goes missing strangely more often when residents live higher than the second floor. Letters are more likely to be successfully delivered on the first floor. Odd that. I have also been told that individual letter boxes in front doors are: ‘…a safety hazard.’ Really?
In the past, I have known a neighbour who trained his younger daughter to fish letters from post boxes with her innocent little hands. Another tenant with mental health problems thoughtfully shoved shit into his neighbour’s post boxes, and then a hamburger. Next he set fire to the post room itself. He was nothing if not thorough. One criminal tenant was spotted flogging a neighbours birthday present cheques to the highest bidder in a pub.
If you placed a communal post box on the end of an average street, would theft come as any surprise? Especially if the design enabled random passers by to play lucky dip with bills and hospital letters.
I’ve just had all my post stolen (again.) I don’t know what’s been taken, but I know a cheque has gone. They’ve also taken utility bills, some official letters, and a magazine. I suppose I can get them all resent, but then somebody mentioned ID theft. I may well be bigamously married. And they didn’t even invite me to me own wedding.