Royal Mail Track & Trace is Pointless

I sent a parcel to Sweden on Friday - some binoculars I’d sold on Ebay. Because I sent them International Signed For, I got a tracking number to use on Entering this number on Friday resulted in a message saying that the parcel hadn’t yet been entered into the system, and to wait to the next day. Fair enough - this isn’t exactly Fedex or UPS, and I posted them at a rural post office in Hursley.

But after entering the number on Saturday, I got this message: ‘We have received your item, posted on 21/07/06 and it is being processed for delivery abroad.’ Well, duh. This gives me no useful information. I posted it to a foreign country, so what else would I be expecting? And I know when I posted it. How much longer is it going to take? Are there any delays at the moment? That’s what I want to know.

After entering the number on Sunday, I got: ‘Your item, posted on 21/07/06 with reference xxx has been passed to the overseas postal service for delivery in SWEDEN.’ In other words, Royal Mail have no link to a foreign tracking system, so can’t tell me anything more about it.

Is this really the best the Royal Mail can do? Some tracking systems actually provide some useful (or at least reassuring) information - a historical record of which depot a parcel went to, and when. I know this is a cheap-ish service (eight pounds for about 450 grams), and perhaps Royal Mail can’t stretch to that. But my conclusion is: if you actually want to track your parcel closely, don’t bother with the Royal Mail.

Roll on more competition in the UK postal service.

Greasy Spoon #124

Fulham CafeIf you’re in the Fulham area and fancy a good breakfast, you could do a lot worse than the Fulham Cafe on Fulham Road. Full English Breakfast including coffee for about 5 pounds. Can’t say fairer than that in London.

(head out of Fulham Broadway station, turn right onto Fulham Road, and it’s on the left-hand-side of the road after two corners and about 300m).

Disclaimer: I have no connection with this cafe apart from being a client.


This film is about: fine wine, weddings, car crashes, relationships, broken noses, sex, and road trips. It’s an entertaining watch, and an emotional one. You can despise both the main characters and also admire them. Paul Giamatti in particular is good as the neurotic one of the pair.

Sideways is definite entertainment, and the two hours don’t lag. But, ultimately, there’s nothing very demanding for the viewer in it, so it’s probably a once-only deal.


eXistenZ is David Cronenberg’s The Matrix. But the layers of reality and existential indirection are far more complex and interesting than with The Matrix (although both films are of high quality and have plenty to hold the interest). With eXistenZ, we quickly get into this ‘now, is this the real world?’ questions, and keeping track is half the fun. The twists and turns of the plot are pacy and well-thought out. Reality layers are built on computer games, and there are many entertaining in-jokes: anyone who has played simple role-playing games such as one of the Monkey Island series will quickly recognise the style of interaction with the games characters, and it must of been great fun for the actors to play with this.

Unlike the Matrix, though, Existenz feels and looks like a feature length episode of the X-Files or the modern The Outer Limits. The glamorous female lead and bright, glossy lighting have a lot to do with this. As is typical for a Cronenberg film, it’s also pretty gruesome (much interaction with the game world is through indistinguishable organic parts that gets diseased, blown up, etc.).

Barcelona Photos

As promised, my photos from Barcelona, including the Sagrada Família and Park Güell.

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