On the subject of post offices, I was interested to talk to George Thompson, general secretary of the National Federation of Subpostmasters, who pointed out to me on the subject of bill payments: "We are after national contracts otherwise the PO could find itself not able to sustain the bill payments network. And then you would end up with PayPoint cherry-picking say, 3,000 post offices and the PO itself pulling out, leaving thousands of subpost offices without bill payment facilities."

His message to subpostmasters is therefore to put as many transactions as possible through paystation.

My 'mole' (and a federation member) in the murky sub-PO world of rumour and retribution tells me that in the last round of PO closures, those retailers who had PayPoint or Payzone got reduced compensation. At a local meeting recently he was told that a much larger audit team was being created which would be auditing the surviving POs over the next year (he was personally last audited in 1988).

He said: "The idea is, if they can find 1,000 that have been naughty, they won't have to pay them compensation if they close them down." He further suggests that the only ones which will be audited are already on a closure list. Forewarned is forearmed.

One piece of good news that came out of my flurry of calls over post offices recently came from Pradip Patel, who runs B&K News in Milton Keynes. His PO was due to close a week after he rang me in late January. He was on tenterhooks because he couldn't find out whether or not he was keeping his lottery terminal.

When I rang Camelot a spokesman said it did sound like the contract was in the PO's name, but he then rang back to say that Pradip just had to fill in the transfer form to keep the terminal - after all, he had been the keeper all those years. A few days later a much more settled Pradip rang to say it had been sorted.