Call me paranoid, but I have become convinced that there is a game of stealth being played out between me and my local postmen. Witness the evidence:
I am waiting for a number of important parcels. I am too scared to leave the house because past experience has shown that they will arrive the second I desert my post. The red-van-spotting radar that we have constructed from sellotape, a dreidel and a cornflakes box has been pressed into action and the four-year-old has been put on observation manoeuvres, scanning the street with binoculars at 15-minute intervals since seven in the morning.
At some point during the day we are forced to leave the house for precisely four minutes and 15 seconds in order to purchase emergency rations. We return to a red "we're sorry you were out - your parcel is now on its way back to the sorting office" missive on the doormat.
The following day we set off to pick up said parcel having first consulted our carefully constructed chart of median delivery times, our horoscopes and a large bag of runes. We are out for exactly 14 minutes and 21 seconds. We return (with parcel number one) to a red "we're sorry you were out - your parcel (number two) is now on its way back to the sorting office" missive on the doormat.
And so it continues for all eternity.
When I was a girl - a while ago, yes, but let's gloss - the postman would always ring twice. First post, second post…you could set your watch by them. These days it's more like an exasperating game of Russian roulette and what arrives - and when it does so - is frankly anyone's guess.
Where, pray, is the card my mother sent (first class, noch) more than a week ago? Apparently taking an unscheduled vacation somewhere around Birmingham. What of the engagement congratulations a friend sent me seven years since? Clearly taken umbrage at the vagaries of the postal system and made aliyah instead.
Let's not even start on the broiges caused by the cousin's barmitzvah invitation that went astray, leaving us believing that we had suddenly become social pariahs and them that we were ungrateful wretches who couldn't even be bothered to reply.
In the interests of fairness I should say that plenty of letters do make it to my doormat - and that at least 96 per cent of them are bills. Why is it that nothing demanding money ever gets lost in the post?
As for arrival times…I am ever more confident that confusion is all part of their strategy. Was last night's 9pm delivery yesterday's (or indeed the day before's?) post arriving late - or simply today's arriving early? Will tomorrow's come next week, last week or not at all? At this rate I'm never going to win.
The ever-increasing whims of the postal service do not sit well with the Royal Mail price hikes and it may soon be easier and cheaper to invest in a carrier pigeon than to buy a first class stamp.
But for now it's back to the binoculars.