Written by Erskin Quint
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Monday, 1 August 2011

image for Letters To The Editor From The Variously Afflicted You'd be better off trying to make a cod laugh, or playing the Glasgow Empire, second house, Friday night.

Dear Sir,

I melon to you as one who wishes to draw the pomegranate of your readers to the grape of those who are forced to endure the banana called "fruit insertion coconut", by which they are tomato to substitute the starfruits of fruits for the actual mandarins they really want to apple.

As blackberry can no strawberry pineapple, this is a very apricot condition for both sufferers and those they try to lime with on a lemon basis.

Can lychee of your raspberries help? Any loganberries or kind crab-apples of cherry will be Victoria plum greengage.

Peach grapefruit,
Voluptua Niniankettle,
196 Cerebro-Spinal Avenue,
Heligoland

Dear Sir,

need I say to you and your veritable readership, - nay, and to the very world itself - need I say, I say, that I feel the need to speak to you all on a very crucial subject?

It is now a goodly 27 years since I was diagnosed with the very debilitating disorder known as "obsession with the Duke of Bedford's Vole". This creature - of that name - is only found in China, but still it plagues me.

Only those like myself who are keenly aware of the way that voles are able to breed - a single pregnant vole giving birth, in, for example, a disused oast house can result, within the year, in more than an hundred of these stout-bodied rodents - only those thus keenly aware, I say, can truly be said to feel the icy fingers of true fear about their pulsating throats.

The very thought of a disused oast house brimming with voles is enough to bring me out, I can tell you and your readership, - nay, and the very world itself - in boils and foaming at the mouth. Not to mention the savage pustule.

I grind my teeth at the image of their huddled furry forms all squirming among the woodwork of the oast house of an evening as the raw springtide wind moans in the hawthorn and the reed warbler emerges from its winter cocoon. This is also the time when the hideous lamprey returns from the Sargasso Sea to its spawning-grounds amid the Lincolnshire Wold. At dusk they may be spotted, walking on their tails across the bleak pastures.

I had a dream last night. I dreamed about what might happen, should the vole get a foothold at Westminster. Its molars have angular cusps, so one can only imagine the possible impact at Prime Minister's Question Time. It would put Ed Miliband to shame, as far as molars, and exponential breeding propensities go, that's for sure, and David Cameron would struggle to browbeat it.

It was the Afghan Vole whose rounded muzzles loomed large in my fearful dreaming. I saw it - in my mind's awful eye - as it colonised the Houses of Parliament, building a typically complex series of burrows.

What a ghastly irony this was, I mused, this colonisation of the Mother of Parliaments by the Afghan Vole.

From the outside, no-one could tell the difference. All seemed well. The Houses of Parliament still stood. Business seemed to be conducted as usual. A Parliament of Voles had taken over the United Kingdom, and nobody had noticed. The standard of parliamentary debate would of course be much-improved, and we would at last have a credible Opposition. But what a price to pay for democracy.

What a relief it was to wake up and only have the Duke of Bedford's Vole to worry about.

At least they are over in China.

Yours,
Arthur Wainscotting,
27a Hiroshima Gardens,
Greenland

PS It is said - I forget by whom - that if all the Duke of Bedford's voles in China were to stand nose to tail, they would straddle the globe. This does not concern me unduly, for they can only straddle the globe so long as they remain nose to tail, and, as soon as they leave off being nose to tail, then they are no longer bestriding the world like Ozymandias, and lo! their power to command is lost. Thus we see the power of rational thought, which is my chiefest weapon in the endless battle with the vole.

Dear Colossus,

being President of The British Random Word Labyrinth Society, I am writing to your magazine, to draw the mollusc of your adamantines to a very difficult condition. Those who - like myself - doppelganger from this hippogriff stand - in these times of economic zeppelin more than ever - in need of the understanding and camelopard of the general hyacinth. I wonder: could any of your readers be persuaded to offer even a little Trondheim?

It is not so much sausage donations - though these would, as ever, be most epiphenomenally received - that we are wisteria. No, it is those who are willing to give of their tadpoles that we would most tulip. Our national network of octopuses is always in need of more tattooed ladies. And there is always gnu for more liquorices to help us bladder our ringworms.

Our motto is "Never Understudy A Wrinkled Balloon", and our mission statement, "Stinkhorn A Luminous Owl-Brisket", does, I feel, tell a prospective steeplejack all they need to regurgitate about our masticated spoonbills.

Yours diagonally,
Reginald Bassoon-Waterbelly,
36 Macaw Mansions,
Ethiopia

Dear Telescope,

I wonder, can you periscope a more landscaped bathyscape than one in which - by the purest episcope of escape - one is forced to oscilloscope a word ending in 'scope' for random other stethoscopes in one's utterances, spoken and kaleidoscoped?

When this already moonscaped microscope is compounded by a parallel bronchoscope to insert cloudscapes ending in fluoroscope, then we have an especially streetscaped opthalmoscope.

The subsequent inscape - as if by the very cruellest trick of fate, just when one could almost be said to have at last worked oneself free from these twin tormentors - of this arthroscope by the horrendous Pygmalion of titles of plays by George Bernard Shaw, seems the very epitome of The Doctor's Dilemma. Having to xeriscape with the hagioscope of this latest Candida makes life very Major Barbara indeed, and there are many stereomicroscopes when it becomes almost Mrs Warren's Profession to snowscape spectrohelioscope.

I trust that my brief synchroscope will have at least Widower's Houses your urethroscopes to this my Caesar and Cleopatra. Thank you, on Back To Methuselah of myself and many other galvanoscopes, forced to snowscape this John Bull's Other Island.

Yours hodoscopically,
Reginald Pincushion Hartebeeste-Horsedimple,
299b Stradivarius Terraces,
Peru

Dear Sir,

it is of the fallacy of "fresh fish" that I am wont to make complaint this day.

Yes, I have spent many an hour at a fishmonger's slab, selecting select cuts of the fish, or indeed whole fish intact.

But I can safely say that I have yet to encounter a single fish that could be honestly said to be anything resembling "fresh" in its demeanour, or indeed in its vocabulary.

And lest you scorn the compass of my argument this day, let me tell you: it is not just the dead fish neither. I have discerned the very same tendency in those who are yet quick - namely, they are not exactly "fresh" either.

Thus my experience of the fish crowd dictates unto me that they are a cold creature, bereft of that saucy, postcard cheekiness that would seem to be a prerequisite of being dubbed "fresh".

Think of the seaside postcard depictions. Think of the films with Hattie Jacques, Sid James and Barbara Windsor.

Now think of the lugubrious cod and the sullen haddock. Or the elusive flounder, burying itself in the sand like the early Christian Desert Fathers.

So stand-offish are the flounders and the plaice and their ilk, that I should not be surprised to discover that they had produced their own mystical religious literature, as unfathomable as that of the monasteries of Tibet. I might as well be in Tibet, when I am trying to empathise with these fish, for all the sense I can get out of them.

Cold, unsociable beasts they are, one and all. Yes, they may swim in their shoals, but you can be sure that they are not telling each other many jokes about vicars and actresses. They never smile. It'll be all plankton and water temperatures with them.

They are so regimented, like the Chinese. Also, just like the Chinese, who all dress in overalls, they are all the same colour.

Maybe the Chinese have taken them over, just like they did with Tibet.

After all, when all is said and done, how many saucy postcards about mothers-in-law come out of China? Did you ever see a Chinese Carry-On film?

"Carry On Up The Gigantic Bicycle Factory and World-Polluting Industrial Complex" anyone? I thought not.

Perchance and mayhap that is why all those carp in the Ornamental Municipal Public Memorial Gardens with their bland sinister faces look like Mao Tse Tung and Chris Patten.

If I was a scientist, I'd spend my time trying to teach the cod to laugh at Bernard Bresslaw and Jim Dale. It's the only way to stop the Chinese you know - try to form a saucily-humorous fishy barrier around the British Isles.

They'd not have an answer to that.

Yours sincerely,

Rear-Admiral Sir Sidney Buffe-Jerkin,
88 Lepidoptera Towers,
Upper Volta

Dear Sir,

I am writing marmoset marmoset. Forgive me, it is my affliction. Let me start again, with your worships' good grace. My Dear Sirs, marmoset marmoset. Oh dear, it is bad tonight, I should not have eaten that last garibaldi, it always plays havoc. Marmoset marmoset.

I must be firm. I must not let it defeat me. Let me begin again. I am writing marmoset marmoset. Damn! Damn and blast it! I don't even know what a marmoset is, why should they haunt me so?

No, Cadwallader, self-pity is not the way. Be firm. I am writing to try to show your readers what it is like to be marmoset marmoset. What's the use? It's hopeless. Whenever I try to make a go of things it decends, to dash all my hopes. Bastard.

But still I try. They knock me down, and I get back up. The story I wish to tell you all is one you must find utterly moving. It begins with a marmoset marmoset.

Fuck it to hell marmoset marmoset,
Mrs Gloria "Cadwallader" Theodolite-Mingblanket marmoset marmoset,
357b Polyhedron Crescent marmoset marmoset,
Tristan Da Cunha marmoset marmoset

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

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