THERE are occasions when it’s the world versus Fred Shawcross.

Here are some examples. I recently posted three letters, all clearly addressed, all stamped, with my name and address on the back, just in case, for whatever reason, they didn’t reach their destination. I am now told that was a fatal mistake.

The first, to Australia, with a £1- 10p stamp on the front, alongside a par avion sticker, was delivered to my home the following day.

Wonderful. The second, to a mail order company in Oxfordshire, dropped through my letterbox the next day. Marvellous. The third, to a pal in Blackrod, bearing a firstclass stamp, hadn’t arrived after nine days. I haven’t had it back, either. I considered calling the Royal Mail Customer Services but decided that, at almost 77 years of age, I couldn’t waste precious time waiting to speak to someone.

Next, after waiting with dread for a quote for the renewal of my van insurance, I got it. I was sitting when I opened the letter, otherwise it would have been another trip to the Royal Bolton. The company, whose TV ads tell senior citizens that they should join an insurer which welcomes “careful” drivers, want £999.89p to continue looking after me and my Vauxhall Combo 1.7 diesel van. No chance.

I called three other firms to be told that, because of my age, am retired and drive a van with a bench type rear seat, they couldn’t accommodate me. One suggested that I had had the bench seat added as an “extra” and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, accept that it had come from the local Vauxhall agents like that. A perfect example of “computer says no”.

Then David Sowerby, of the Health and Safety Executive, wrote to this newspaper’s letters page, complaining of factual inaccuracy in a column I wrote about “Elf ‘n’ Safety”. I admit to flippancy, not inaccuracy. I queried the policy of instructing police to observe health and safety when chasing criminals after reports about it in the national media.

The GP who told me about magazines being removed from his waiting room now says the instructions came from another quango dealing with infection prevention, though originally he said Health and Safety, which is pretty much the same thing. And Mr Sowerby’s proud claim that in the 35 years since HSE was set up, 82 per cent fewer people have been killed at work, could coincide with the irrefutable fact that the industries in which most fatal accidents occurred, mining and engineering, have all but disappeared in the UK.

I would expect him to protect his back and those of his executive, but not by labelling me uncaring and inaccurate.