Sir, -

 

With your gracious permission I will take a holiday from queuing in the post office on Tuesdays to collect my alloted €203 a week which you, in your infinite wisdom and generosity, see fit to allow me, and take this double payment with me on a trip. Bringing my 02 Starlet,  I will board the ferry enjoying all the while the faint but pungent aromas of puke wafting from the carpeted floors in the bar, combined with that much loved perfume of stale stout. Knowing that in your benighted benevolence you only have my welfare at the core of your gentle heart,  how I will relish the sight of you and your esteemed companions in the restaurant, enjoying your bottle of €408 red, the name of which I cannot spell, let alone pronounce. You will, notwithstanding the bottles of red, wake refreshed in your cabin with a sea view, with the prospect of a continental breakfast awaiting you. 

 

With last night’s fish and chips swilling nauseatingly in me, I have no stomach for food. Only the purpose of my odyssey will sustain me and I will spend the double payment in the first shop, filling my 02 Starlet with €1 bottles, returning to the ferry a scant 3 hours later to repeat last night’s experience, homeward bound. Happy, but with a tinge of saddened nostalgia for 2021, and the days of €3.99 in Tesco red. 

 

Yours, etc.

 

Anna 

Sir, - 

 

A recent perusal of a website belonging to a charity, which will remain nameless, exhorted this reader to strive towards zero waste. Honourable though this intention may be, I would like to suggest some moderation and realism. In the words of the esteemed wit Brendan Behan, ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity, only your own obituary’. The result of death is a corpse, and so even my demise will not be zeroly wasteful, if I may boudlerize the English language in such a way; and further, if one can establish that as a point of agreement, can we agree that my three-generations-old family business, Jammy Jam Ltd (est. 1904), can only wish on a blue moon that we were indeed a zero waste enterprise. Jammy Jam Ltd jams and preserves, using the finest fruits we can find, has, like every business, built in a percentage for loss, and in the sad event of the loss of one jar we do mourn the fruit, the sugar, the water, the pectin and the E1207 allowed by EU regulation no. 340a6; the jar itself, sand, soda ash and limestone melted at extremely high temperature resulting in our distinctive, eau de nil Jammy Jam Ltd glass; and our beautifully designed, instantly recognisable, Jammy Jam Ltd label of paper made only from trees from a renewable forest. 

 

The self same charity website urged against the modern malaise of affluenza. Yours truly was obliged to consult my 7 year-old granddaughter as to the meaning of affluenza. Far be it from me to criticise the youth of today, it was nonetheless distasteful in the extreme to learn that there may be a generation labouring under such an affliction. In my day, when bananas were black and it was a shock to learn that they had once been yellow, and when sugar was not permitted in tea due to rationing and our horse consumed better quality oats than we had for our morning porridge, we knew the value of threepence ha’penny that being the exact amount of petrol consumed by the doctor’s vehicular transport on the one occasion he was called on to attend to an illness, culminating in the grievous passing of my late mother.  I will not enlighten your readers as to this modern malaise, thus besmirching these pages. 

 

Yours, etc.

 

Anna 

Sir, - 

 

In your newspaper of October 13, 2020 there was an actual full page advertisement, featuring an actual photo of an actual pint, accompanied by the actual words ‘actually delicious. Asterisk.’ Asterisk denoting the words, ‘not actual size.’ Actually, in current parlance means despite all  expectations to the contrary, actually. 

As G.K. Chesterton didn’t actually write, but might actually have said, and here I use the word to mean ‘as a matter of fact’: 

When men stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.

 

Am I to believe that this reddish liquid, which I see to be in a pint glass, is actual ale, or is it tea laced with a photogenic shot of arsenic as per the demands of food and drink photography, in which case it is not ‘actually delicious’, rather it is actually poisonous. 

 

Further, I believe that the history of pint advertising also ran a billboard campaign featuring the words, are you going for a pint? Without a pint, actual or otherwise. Actually, just as a bird does not fly on one wing, I am never going for a pint. Two, I’m going for two pints. Unless I happen to lose patience with the finger-wagging moralists, in which case I’m going for a mind-your-own-business number of pints. Literally. 

 

Yours, etc. 

 

Anna

Sir, -

 

I am croissant bag no. 1303. I am begotten not made. Not made between croissant bag no. 1302 and croissant bag no. 1304, and I have free will. Croissant bags no. 1302 and no. 1304 are destined to lie, sandwiching me, croissant bag no. 1303, rolled in a suffocating proximity. It is their destiny to be thrown, with a countlessly infinite number of identical others, near the pastries, in a sterile roll, waiting in patient turn to fulfil their predestined calling as croissant bags. A fleeting moment of purpose, and thrown, until the next NCT, on to the floor of your car. Gathered into a noxious ball with the cigarette butts and defunct Biros, they have a mere destiny of whorling in the Pacific Vortex, scarred and torn by BIC razors; until their descent to plastic particles, and then the return, only to be consumed in the flesh of the mackerel on Friday. 

 

 

I am a deviant, I choose life. 

 

Yours, etc. 

 

Anna

Sir, - 

 

In a recent column (October 17th) the many benefits of drinking oat milk were described. I am sure your journalist is correct, but perhaps oat milk could be brought to the attention of the consumer affairs columnist? Because either the price of oat milk is a joke or oats have gone up in price without it affecting the price of a bag of them, that being €2.79 for a 1.5 kilos of Flahavan’s, and 1 litre of oat milk is €2.49 in the same supermarket.

 

I had been labouring under the illusion that the process of making oat milk was complicated, and thus was the price justified.

 

 

The yield from the €2.79 bag would be 6 litres according the small amount of research I have done. I can make 1 litre of oat milk at home using about 20c worth of oats, a litre of water and a t-shirt. I realise that there are t-shirts and t-shirts, but are the makers of oat milk using a diamond encrusted one?

 

 

I am not qualified to comment on the environmental benefits of growing oats but this does seem a high price to pay for moral superiority, and I have never tried oat milk so I can have no opinion on its health benefits but I now strongly suspect that this is a placebo, and had the price been 20c it would not be nearly as effective. 

 

 

I, for one, will not be putting that muck on my porridge. The makers of oat milk are laughing all the way to the bank. In my humble opinion. 

 

 

Yours, etc. 

 

Anna