having read your august journal now these past 30 years, I am writing my first letter. I would not normally put pen to paper but feel moved to speak of the shortage of butlers these days.
There was a time - or so my father tells me - when butling was considered a noble calling. But sadly, the advent of the television, with its celebration of selfishness and petty materialism, had put an end to the halcyon day when every other man of working class stock was wont to don the butler's white gloves.
The shortage of butlers is a real issue for those of us who live in stately housing. Here at Grouthampton Hall, we have a real shortage of butler. Our butler - Huxtabule - is only 4' 7".
This makes life difficult, when he has to get things down off high shelves. He has to use an elephant's foot to stand on. I must say that this is economically prohibitive in these times. Elephant husbandry is not cheap. Also we have to have a team set to cleaning up the dung. And house parties are ruined by the trumpeting in the corridors. Old Mrs Trouncer has had to retire to Rottingdean. It reminded her of India, where her husband was gnawed by a tame mongoose during a tiger hunt.
Another difficulty is that a short butler is not easily seen until the last minute. Colonel Blister fell over Huxtabule last Easter. Also it is disconcerting if we are discussing the ghosts at dinner, and people see what they think is a disembodied tray coming towards the table, only to discover a tiny butler beneath.
Yours in anticipation of sympathy,
I thought your readers may like to enjoy this essay of mine on the subject of mouses. I have not sent it in as an article just yet. I think it is suitable in letter form. This is an experiment. I hope you like it.
Mouses are small furred rat-shaped beasts with clawed feet at each corner that render them very stable. That's why they can run fast round corners and escape a cat. They hide in walls and nibble stone. Sometimes they appear and can be seen in knife drawers etc. They like to take small objects of cutlery and food to line their nests. They build such nests too small for humans to enter. This they have learned to do because from the Dark Ages people used to steal the nest to make broth. Also mouses can eat soap. Winter is a main time for these, they herd in search of warmth and come into a house. You can catch a mouse by smearing apricot jam on a vanity mirror and humming Johnny Todd he took a notion since mouses like to look at themselves while eating jam. Somehow the humming seems to make them quiet. But you have to be ready to hum a long time. And make a grab when the mouses are quietly eating the jam and looking at their selves. Not every body is brave enough to squeeze and squeeze until the mouses are crushed in your hand but I really love to crush them and crush them hard till blood comes out.
I am thinking of sending this article in, to the Horse & Hound. Or Vanity Fair. What do you think? Will it appeal to the gardening paternity?
As a supplymental may I also add some thoughts on words that bother me? I say there is a roof. More than one roof is needed to be called roofs. But what about a hoof? Do we then say hoofs when we are presented with the whole animal? No, we are taut to reply in the form of "hooves". But "rooves" are frowned upon. When I wear a groove that is one thing. But should I wear a series of these, they are then termed grooves. Not "groofs". Nor is this pressure relieved by entering into intimate combat with proof. One proof is a proof. More than one proof are "proofs". And yet I have to prove a proof, though many proofs are not "prooves".
Thank you, that feels better.
Miss Betty Scrattle,
can I draw your readers' attention to an amusing coincidence? I live in Southampton and I have a friend who lives in Northampton!
But that's not all! I live in North Southampton, whereas my friend lives in South Northampton!
Also, my favourite area for a spot of upland walking is the South Downs, whereas my friend prefers the North Downs.
Finally, my name is Bob South and my friend is called Rob North.
And we often joke about our loud conversations, reminding each other that "North and South" is Cockney for "mouth"!
Ethel Nibcock Esq.