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I have watched him for the last few years. The way I see him has changed because I have got to know him very slightly over the years. He still fascinates me, particularly during those Advent days of the Christmas rush.

He is, I would say, in his senior years of employment, and by and large he has a sad face. He stands behind the counter of the Post Office and presides over an annual madness that he now views with a kind of Olympian calm. I have seen others trying to do his job. They face the line of unmailed parcels - all awaiting stamps, custom slips, first class stickers, air mail stickers - and their faces pale and their hands fumble, their foreheads glisten and their voices attain a high nervous pitch.

With my friend it is quite different. He obviously has a system. He has accepted that for a few days the world will go mad. Otherwise, intelligent human beings will buy one stamp when they should buy twenty. Some will be unable to fill out a green form two inches square without six questions. Others will want to know the different cost of mailing parcels depending on which one of ten categories they decide to avail themselves. My friend knows all that can be known. He knows all the methods, all the options, all the possibilities. He is stern but never unjust. He exudes authority tempered by mercy. Particularly stupid questions or arguments are dealt with summarily. His voice is deep, at times even gruff, but he never smiles. Mind you there are moments when I have seen his facial muscles move as if about to draw back and reveal his bared teeth, but he has always managed to refrain. I suspect that he is a kind of Obi Wan Ben Kenobi, one of a cadre of Jedi knights that the Post Office keeps in reserve to hurl into the fray when the battle is at its worst. God bless them, or should I say, "May the force be with them ... "