Written by Erskin Quint
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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

image for Letters To The Editor About The Birds And The Bees, Treasure Island, Hedges, Ming The Merciless & "Phones Hake-ing" Two Emperor Penguins Pondering Their Tenuous Relationship To Emperor Ming The Merciless, Yesterday

Dear Sir,

I live in the countryside (I hope to move into a house soon) and I feel I must put pen to paper (not that I have a pen, or any paper, but you must humour my whim I fear).

Now I am lost for words. It's all the brackets. That's what stymied me with the algh, the aljibrae, the algiebrar, the maths at school. I got bewildered by brackets. I always reckoned when I wrote my arto, orto, aughto, life story, I would call it "Bewildered By Brackets". That is, until I found out that Barry Lyndon, the 18th century rake and woodworker, had already used that title in a pamphlet explaining why he was giving up the woodwork for a life of European rakery. Well, his pamphlet was actually called "Bewildered by Bracketf" since they used to swap the letter f and the letter s around in those days, but it amounts to the same thing. It didn't do him any harm, because he got a 15-hour film made about him by Stanley Rubrick, the movie-maker and puzzle cube inventor.

Of course, I am aware that Lyndon's weren't the same kind of brackets as mine anyway. But I do think that the fact that Stanley Rubrick invented a cube puzzle is germane, though the story was originally written by Anthony Tolstoy, the novelist and inventor of the satellite which was named "Telstar" after him in a clever play on word-music. Then there was popular beat group The Shadows, who sang an instrumental hymn of praise to the majestic Telstar and combined it with an homage to the noble Apache, in a telling commentary on the march of progress.

Where was I? Ah, yes, being a country dweller I am appalled at the fact that, were I intending to attempt to speak to a young relative about the "birds and the bees", then I should be at a loss.

You can't get the birds, or the bees, these days. They have all been eradicated, be it by the farmer's pesti, inspesti, inspecto, insecta, stuff they spray on crops to kill insects.

And dare I mention the scourge of the pet cat? Cute though they may appear, these are killers. And what use are they? Are they an asset to the land? What is their contribution? Namely, they kill birds and they shit in people's gardens.

You know, soon we will have a nation populated by eggo, eggsent, igorsent, selfish fools. We will be overrun by human parodies of themselves and their feral uncontrollable children, and their ghastly "Mini-Me" pets destroying the natural world.

The countryside is no longer fit for kings as it indeed was in the day of yore, when Ethelred the Unsteady held sway, and Hereford the Wake carried people's bulls across the River Severn in defiance of King Norman's Magnum Carto which outlawed the transportation of livestock by means of cart without a permit in French (King Norman was something of a wordsmith, or perhaps his barons were, when you look at the way they utilised the French "carte" and the English "cart" in tandem).

Yours,

Blodwyn Rattler
Cullompton

Dear Sir,

do any readers share my experiences of late? It began three weeks hence ago last Wednesday evening but one. I was working on my coracle in the front garden where I have my "boatbuilding yard". Actually, I am constructing a "currach", which is a sea-going hide-covered vessel such as is employed in the West of Ireland, rather than a freshwater "coracle", but, fearing that readers might shun a currach, I led with the more-popular "coracle". Now that the ice is broken, I feel confident that my epistolatory legerdemain has been accepted as a necessary rite of passage, and I am conscious of an upwell of approval. We can proceed.

I had just been rejected for membership of The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, and so may have been a little prone to delusion that evening, but I think not. It was as clear as the April moon.

I looked out across the road and there, standing by my gate, was Long John Silver. Well, to be precise, it was my neighbour, Mike Hock, but he was leaning on a brush like a crutch, he had a quantity of green cloth on his shoulder, and his new haircut looked like a tricorn hat. In that light of evening, it was uncanny.

Then, a week later, my wife and I had a visit from a builder whose name was Benny Gunn. Neither he, nor my wife, could understand my amazement. Suffice it to say, I decided not to avail myself of his services with regard to the pointing.

The real clincher for me, was listening to Afternoon Play on Radio Four, which was a dreary affair about two widowed widowers or something, who meet up and revisit their joint honeymoon in the Hebrides. One of the characters said "I really treasure these islands". I nearly choked on my malt loaf.

So, do any other readers have a similarly chastening experience to report?

Yours sincerely,

Henry Jekyll,
The Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage,
Oswaldtwistle

Dear Sir,

watching TV the other night, I saw "Fawning With Alan Titchmarsh", in which a grinning lickspittle and Icon of Mediocrity interviewed a famous loud vacuous idiot. It was all very stimulating and a novel departure from my original plan for the evening, which was to practice singing one of the more elaborate "quodlibets" of Ludwig Senfl, the Swiss Renaissance composer.

From Alan Titchmarsh, my mind it went a-roving, and it ranged about the world of horticulture, coming to rest awhile among the very country of the hedgerow. I began to think about the hedgerow, and I thought to myself: "how many people will have heard of the 'Great Hedge of India?'

"Not many", I thought, and still think. The Great Hedge was part of the Inland Customs Line, a barrier constructed by the British in India in the 19th century to facilitate tax collection, which was compared to the Great Wall of China.

But why do I speak thus, about a prodigious hedge in British-colonial India? Well, let me begin to expound, for time passes, and the Italian madrigals of Cipriano de Rore await me.

My ancestor, Sir Francis Capon, fired by his acquaintance with the Great Hedge of India, became utterly determined to construct a similar barrier across British Guiana in the 1870s. He wanted the hedge to follow the "Schomburgk Line", the claimed boundary between Guiana and Venezuela that was at the centre of the bitter dispute between Britain and Venezuela which eventually saw a decision by the USA that marked its emergence as a world power. Sir Francis was set upon using the English box hedge plant for "The Great Guiana Hedge", and would brook no attempt to persuade him that a Japanese box plant would be more likely to withstand the humidity of the tropical climate. Indeed, it was the humidity and the slow-growing nature of the English box hedge - as much as the inhospitability of the terrain - that eventually broke the heart of the man who was dubbed by his native servants "the man who would pull faces at Venezuela through an English hedge".

Sir Francis retired to Littlehampton a broken man. An obsession with topiary consoled his twilight years.

Yours sincerely,

Miss Augusta Gloaminghurst,
Port Sunlight

PS Did I mention that my letter was inspired by reading of your other readers who have ancestors who attempted great deeds in the days of Empire? No? Ah, that is what Alan Titchmarsh does to one's attentive faculties. Buggers them up, the little smug toadying sycophant.

Dear Sir,

the last time I was in court, it was for doing a headstand atop a police car, when I was asked if I had anything to say, I said: "Bend to my will, puny earthlings."

It didn't help my case one iota, but it was something to cling to, while in the Maw of the Oppressor State, and it made me smile, if no-one else.

Yours,

Malcolm Twotte, alias Ming The Merciless,
HMP York

Mein Dear Herring,

would it to have been being said that we Germans have not the being humour to have a sensing thereof, herewith may I to you thus now a numbering of examples present.

So:

Here here old chaps! What with is it, to of, that with this it is all being about? Eh, don't you know old chaps what?

And these cases, of the mobiles telephones hacked having been, what is it to of those have being had about it?

Ho! I am a map-making Herr Surveyor, and have I am not having a phones "hachuring" indeed had oh yes? Ha ha.

Oh, my dear old dear, and here are we being to have had a meal of "chips and fishings" but are we not to have being cods or haddocks to have eaten, no? Nay, old beans, it is we who have been having to have telephoned the "chips and fish keller" for sure, to having had an "phones hake-ing" ordering to have been made. Booms booms Mr Roy!

And, this is the final, it is all over it is now! Let me to be a telephone conversation having to make with a man who is an owner of a stables from where we may a holiday with horse-knowledge and the ridings purchase. Mother, allow me for the telephoning to have being made in this to have vouchsafed. Yes! I am the one who this "phone-hacking" purchasing is to have been today completing!

"Oh please to allow me the staging to have been leaving, that of which I not the knowledge to desire to have, oh matron!"

Yours,

Franz Kunt-Blauer,
Bad Wildbad,
Baden-Wurttemberg

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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