This morning my daughter hurried to the bathroom just as I was getting ready to take a shower. “There’s a police car in the drive!” she exclaimed all of a panic. Mmm, Ok, I thought, maybe he’s had to move off our lane (single track, no parking spaces etc etc) nothing to worry about. Then daughter, peeking out of the window hissed, “He’s at the door.” I muttered an expletive as I went to the upstairs window, towel covering my modesty, then called down that I’d only be a few minutes. I dragged on some clothes and rushed downstairs.

There stood a policeman who seemed to be too young to be allowed out of the house on his own (maybe more of a reflection of my age than his), and following my apologies he asked if I was Victoria. “Er, no,” I said. His face fell and I felt sorry to disappoint him even though I don’t know a Victoria. By now I had an inkling of what had happened, so I asked him who or what he was looking for. Sure enough, he said our address, but I knew something that he didn’t. There are two of us.

Let me explain. In rural areas such as ours we often share a road name and house numbers with properties that can be up to a few miles away. The Powers That Be, in their wisdom, only differentiate between these properties with the post code which, naturally, is only of use to the post office and some particularly clever Sat-Navs. All others (police, delivery companies, tradesmen, friends etc) can only rely on guesswork and good luck.

In our case we share a road name and house number with a property 2 miles away in the local small town, which causes no end of confusion. There are minor differences to the address – we try to add identifiers – but it doesn’t always work. Even the post office, with their sophisticated post code system, often deliver mail to the wrong address, particularly if we get a new postman. If we know someone is coming we give them directions, or suggest that they phone when they are close and we talk them in. Most frequently parcels and people end up at our ‘alternative’ address but on a few occasions the roles are reversed. Like this morning.

So it was with the nice young (very young) policeman this morning, I explained where he needed to go, gave him precise directions and sent him away happy and better informed (to an address that is actually only a few hundred yards from his police station!) but it did leave me wondering. What would happen if I phoned for the police in a dire emergency? And how long would I have to wait for them to find us? Actually, it is probably better that I don’t think about that!

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