I THINK  it was the classic facade that made a visit to the Quay Street post office a little bit more than just another stop. When I was a boy, and that was not yesterday, it was definitely more interesting than a trawl round boring old grocery shops. Only Day's toy shop could beat it.

Haverfordwest in those days was a little drab, a touch shabby, and there was a lot of greyness, in many more than forty shades. The Bath stone of the post office offered a warm relief to a scene that was uninteresting to a child.

The building was purpose made as a post office in 1937, and the architect, H Secombe, had his name inscribed on one of the stones.

Behind the scenes, there was a lot going on inside the high walled perimeter. Dispatch labels were printed in house, and the vans and trucks that squeezed through the narrow side entrance were repaired on site. The office soon outgrew it's function, and at Christmas time the services club next door was used to cope with the volume of mail.

When you entered the portal, for that is what you did through such architecture, it was into a calm, slightly echoing atmosphere that was quiet in a businesslike sort of way. The only source of sound that remains in my memory is the thump of the stamps as the clerks franked yet another dog licence or car tax badge.

I remember a particular smell too, a gummy, papery, inky odour that was subdued enough to be interesting, as it was reminiscent of parcels. And then there was the mystery of those colourful little stamps that were detached in a satisfyingly punctuated tearing motion from a block of duplicates, then as a personal farewell, licked and pasted. Sometimes I could cash a postal order from gran, and Day's was then definitely on the must do list. I was allowed to post the letter or parcel, and I left the building with a sense of the strangeness of it all.

The vividness of this impression may have been the result of my country mouse childhood, but the imprint has never quite faded through the years of city living, and the post office was always a place with an echo of the past. Only one thing blighted my experience of the building; the imposition of a TV screen full of advertisements to distract the queuing public, as though we could not survive for a few minutes without being diverted from reality. Why could we not spend the time criticising the dress sense of those in front, speculating upon their occupations, or simply watching the easy flow of time. So incensed was I by this imposition that I almost wrote to the Western Telegraph in complaint. Well, now I am doing just that several years on. Let me hear no more of such a nonsense.

The new post office is a much more humble affair, blending in meekly with the rest of Bridge Street. It is plain and straightforward, and the staff are as good as ever they were, but it won't hold many memories. Still, we have to bow to economic rationalisation... don't we ?