November 1 1998
10 Forsythia Grove
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT
My Dear Ralph
Thank you for your very informative – not to say thrilling – account of your week spent ragwort-plucking on the verges of the M1. I hope you were able to save some remnants of your clothing from the ravages of fire and that, at the very least, your favourite cap was safely stashed in your rucksack? Will you be able to exempt yourself from further sorties Up North do you think? Or would The Government impose Sanctions?
I myself have been much exercised on the plight of poor Harriet, who is still immured in a Cuban women’s prison. Would you be able to bundle up a mosquito net, pet, and despatch it to her at the Castro Central gaol? I have just sent her about 100 candles and several tubes of antiseptic cream. But, in the course of telephoning our consul in Havana, it was clearly established that one can only send non-perishable items. This is a little limiting as it would not be much fun to be in receipt of several packets of cream crackers. And, indeed, these may well arrive as cream cracker powder . . .
I have been having one or two thoughts about this political regime over in Cuba. I know you may well disagree with me dear – as one who is wont to talk in terms of ‘comrades’ and ‘brothers’ – but it does seem to me that it is in the very nature of a communist state to enforce the kind of levelling of opportunity and attainment that runs counter to the grain. For while the human animal is doubtless capable of a level of co-operation, s/he is also equally capable of (indeed requires) a level of conflict. We are not, and can never be, the same. We each aspire to enact our own – encoded – dream; indeed we are driven to enact it.
Meanwhile, in discourse of a more personal nature, I had my third meeting with the local Cosy Old Sock I may have described in a previous episode. Whilst perambulating the pavements at a distinctly early hour this morning, it occurred to me to drop a note through said Sock’s door, inviting him to partake of coffee at our usual hostelry. His house drive seemed an unduly long one and I scrunched, on tip-toe, through the gravel. I was afraid, I must admit, that the Fonz – his standard Poodle – might actually be able to discern my approach and start to emit a loud barking! But, no, there was a deathly hush even as I unsnagged the rope holding his front gate shut. I must say pet that, if ever a premises was in need of a gardener, it is this one! A most unruly range of shrubs positively stretched their thorns across the path and I had some small difficulty detaching myself from their embrace. Nevertheless, I succeeded in sneaking open the letter box and, dropping my missive therein, I retraced my steps.
He evidently received my note because he was stationed in The Cloud hostelry at the time mentioned in my note. And, during the course of our encounter, I certainly learnt quite a bit about how to recognize an upside-down Union Jack should it be appended to a flagpole in this manner. He did, I am relieved to say, seem grateful to have received my invitation and we have now reached the point of exchanging actual phone numbers! Perhaps a trip out to Gorilla Valley might be a forthcoming destination?
Take Care now Ralph. Should both you and Harriet be confined in an institution at the same time, who would I have to write to?