Friday, 3 November 2017

Never Again

Although I moaned here about the UK Telegraph a couple of days ago, I have to admit it is almost worth buying the paper for the occasional run of letters on trivial but faintly diverting subjects that appears there now and then.

The most recent concerns negative "bucket lists". That is, people are writing in to tell readers what they want to ensure they never do - or never do again - before they kick the bucket. I fear the kicking of buckets may be something that preoccupies we of the Telegraph demographic, but at least this new topic seems to have overtaken the topic that was dominating readers' minds rather unhealthily for a while.

That topic, if you can believe it, was lavatory brushes. Letter after letter appeared on the subject. It captured the imagination of a surprisingly large but sadly not particularly witty group of readers, (the only faintly noteworthy letter relating to lavatory brushes was one that claimed, supposedly on very good authority, that Princess Margaret once gave one of her ladies-in-waiting a lavatory brush for Christmas, explaining, "When I was last at your house I noticed you didn't have one, so now you do.")

Anyway, the first of the replacement series on negative "bucket lists" came, I think, from Richard Weeks in Felixstowe, Suffolk. He referred to an "upturned bucket list" and said that in this context he never wanted to eat pumpkin, go on a cruise, or wear a suit and tie again, (a few editions later he was ticked off severely for this last aspiration by CE Purdy from Gloucestershire who insisted that "a man's neck is invariably most unattractive" and explained that he plans never to be scruffy. Well, very good luck to him).

A woman from Surrey soon replied to Mr Weeks, telling him and the world that her husband hopes to get through life without going to Ikea, (he hasn't lived!), while a man called Thomas from Lancaster agreed about never going on a cruise again, but then slightly changed his mind, suggesting he might be tempted if the price of the ticket gave him the opportunity to throw two people per day overboard, starting with the people who were supposed to be his dinner companions.

The next day, a letter from Richard Skidmore in Cheshire recounted Woody Allen's response, when asked what he might do differently if he had his life to live all over again: "Not read Moby Dick", apparently. In the same edition, Charlotte Primrose told the world that she doesn't ever want to meet a celebrity, which I agree with in principle, except that there are some people who fall into the celebrity category but could possibly also just become one's friend, I imagine. Further down the letters column, in a smartarse ploy - but I recognise someone had to give in to the obvious temptation it presented - another contributor, this time from Wiltshire, announced that he intended never to write to a newspaper's letters page again, ha, ha, ha.

But the prize for absolutely strangest and most intriguing list of things someone never wanted to do again most definitely should be awarded to someone called Lesley, who lives in Lavenham, Suffolk. Lesley explained that she/he does not ever wish to repeat the experience of a) spending the night in a room over a bar in Spain and - magnificently weird and absurd in equal measure - b) sitting "in the dress circle in a heatwave with unfortunate people above me projectile vomiting".

My mind has rarely boggled so vigorously as when trying to imagine that extraordinary and, I imagine, very pungent scene.


  1. Letters pages were always one of the first things I read, back when I read national newspapers in the UK. My wife edited the letters page on one of the major nationals for a while and even now, many years later, if you say to her "St Neots" or "Stroud" or "Barnstaple" she won't hesitate in responding "Cambridgeshire", "Gloucestershire", "Devon".

    I do enjoy your blog by the way. Perhaps it will even motivate me to get back on the old blogging horse myself.

    1. Your lucky wife, that would be a really enjoyable job, I reckon. Thank you so much for your kind comment. That is v generous