October 25 1998
10 Forsythia Grove
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT
Thank you for your (admittedly rather incoherent) telephone call the other night. I have only just had a chance to bone up on Lord Tidbit’s idea of occupying UK benefit recipients with the task of plucking ragwort from grass verges running along motorways Up North. Surely, pet, there are one or two plus points associated with this scheme? For one, you will have less opportunity to loiter about under the bedcovers and, secondly – given the free transport provided – it will be an opportunity to explore a whole new part of the country? Ragwort has really quite a pernicious, not to say poisonous, effect upon equine health you know, and so your labours would not be quite as mindless as those spent, for instance, sewing mail sacks. There is further the point that you are in receipt of some FREE government funds and so a day or so, per week, of constructive endeavour would offer a level of recompense. One of your weaknesses, if I may mention it dear, is that you have not actually determined upon a direction for your life to take! And I do myself hope that some time spent in the breezes on the hard shoulders Up North might give you the time to think about this!
Meanwhile, I have had one or two disturbing encounters with that bully, Sir Ponsonby Crawler. For all the years (eight) I have lived at Forsythia Grove, this individual has concerned himself with a) to what extent I am working at all and b) whether I am working sufficient hours to his satisfaction. Now, normally, I am able to elude his attempts to intrude into my private life but, a few weeks ago, our acquaintance took a significant downturn. There we were on the same stretch of pavement when he accosted me with the words, “ARE YOU WORKING TODAY?”
A distinct lack of smiling accompanied this question and so I retorted,
“I don’t see that’s any of your business! I don’t ask you what you’re doing?”
“I (imagine an emboldened, capital, letter here pet) am walking down the High Street” he said.
“Well, so am I” I replied, turning my back, and walking off. So, do you know, he actually had the gall to call after me – I imagine with hands cupped about his mouth –
“SO. NOT WORKING TODAY THEN.”
Honestly Ralph. I was fuming, as you might well imagine.
Things were luckily quiet then for a couple of weeks as I did not encounter him whilst on any of my peregrinations about town. Then, one horrible morning – at around 8am – I encountered him in a (deserted) alley en route to the canal. Well it was absolutely like that film ‘High Noon’ with two gunslingers striding towards each other from opposite ends of a dusty thoroughfare. Neither of us smiled, neither of us said hello, and we locked eyes. I felt, dear, that he wanted to force me to look down but even the prospect of being beaten to death with his walking stick could not persuade me to do that. He was up against a more redoubtable lady than he thought! I immediately stepped forward and pinched his windpipe between thumb and forefinger – raising his neck a trifle towards the sky. Delightful the gurgle that then issued forth! After a few seconds squeezing, I released my hold and proceeded on my way . . .
This morning, I am pleased to relate, we encountered each other on the High Street and both of us essayed a most respectful good morning! What I need dear is a Cosy Old Sock (in the metaphorical sense) to go about with. It is ladies who are apparently alone who seem to be subject to such overtures from individuals who, while bullies on the one hand, are often cowards on the other.
Well dear. You must send me a postcard from any box adjoining the M1 if you are up that way any time soon. I have enclosed a cut-out of a Ragwort in flower for your edification and further study!