IT’S a long time since I’ve watched it but I remember an episode of Postman Pat in which he struggles with an unexpected influx of parcels.

If I remember rightly, the occupants of Greendale were normally letter people, and Pat had to enlist help to deliver all the packages.

Pat would get a shock if he came out of retirement today and hit the streets of a country village. He’d have to get a bigger van for start, and maybe enlist an assistant. There certainly wouldn’t be room for his cat.

Our lives seems to revolve around parcels. With online shopping, never before have we sent and received so many. From the number of delivery vans coming and going down my street at all times of day, you’d think I lived in a sorting depot.

I’m not a nosy neighbour - not all the time anyway, I have to sleep - but some people’s recycling bins contain enough cardboard packaging to wrap an Amazon warehouse.

It’s such a waste. Although I prefer real shops on real high streets, I order the odd thing online and have had small items like calendars delivered in boxes the size of shipping containers.

With so many parcels being dropped off, it is reaching the stage where they will define us in a ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ sort of way. If a calendar could be mistaken for a 40-inch TV, then all the better.

And who has the most deliveries per day, her at number six or him at number seven?

Today thousands of parcels will whizz across the UK in the annual Black Friday frenzy. In previous years environmentalists have reported a spike in pollution across the country as vans deliver thousands of extra parcels in a short space of time.

Nowadays, many people expect next day deliveries, so companies hire in extra drivers using their own vehicles, which are even less green.

And with the pandemic leaving so many shops shut, there will be even more journeys this year.

It’s all a far cry from when I was young. Back then, the arrival of a parcel - any parcel, even if it was not for you - at our house was met with excitement and immediately opened.

Almost all our packages were from my mum’s John Moores catalogue. My sister and I would spend hours flicking through it, selecting clothes for birthdays and Christmas. My mum also ordered the odd thing, yet between us we would receive no more than half-a-dozen parcels a year.

When my daughters lived at home, it was not unusual to have that number of parcels arrive every week. Some of the packages would lie around all morning before they would pay them any attention. After opening, they sent half the goods back.

I would regularly offer to take my daughters shopping, to try on clothes first - which to me is by far the best way to shop - but they baulked at the idea, preferring to order through fashion websites.

Parcel deliveries rule our lives. Busy hubs such as railway stations and hospitals now have collection lockers so we don’t have to wait in at home. It makes me wonder how shops survive at all.

Now, we can even get parcels picked up from our doorsteps, in a new service launched in September by Royal Mail. It means people can send or return items by post without queuing at the post office.

Royal Mail describes the service as ‘one of the biggest changes to the daily delivery since the launch of the post box in 1852’.

One thing is for sure, if Postman Pat was expected to muck in, he’d be straight on the phone to his union rep.