Delivery man walks into a village post office looking all lost and says, “Can you tell me where Mrs So-and-so lives? I can’t find her house.”

Anne Burke, who runs a Londis (known to all as the Acre Store) in Long Parish, near Andover, wasn’t sure if she could give out the information any longer; someone who works for a very big organisation had told her that she would be in breach of the new data protection regs if she gave such directions, so she was at a bit of a loss when she rang me.

Anne has been running the little store since the 1960s and lost delivery men are a frequent occurrence. She says she will be able to put them straight “nine times out of 10”.

I pointed out that it wasn’t the intention of the Information Commissioner’s Office (which regulates the new General Data Protection Regulations) to prevent parcels being delivered to correct destinations, but I said I would ask for an official response anyway because these new rules have had some surprising wrinkles.

The ICO’s press office responded to my email request by saying they couldn’t possibly comment and asked could I ring them up? I rang up and found out why. They explained that it was beyond their remit so as far as they were concerned Anne could direct away to all who asked. “It’s just common sense,” they said. But they also said they were getting all manner of such queries. I believe they are compiling a list of their favourites.

Is it like elf ‘n’ safety gone mad?, I asked. “Exactly,” they said.