is it necessary?

A letter from the Ministry office asked: “Is it necessary for your employees to climb a 6 foot, glass topped wall to get to work?”

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Works manager Mr Terry Burrows thought the question amusing. So he replied: “The normal mode of entry for employees is by using the springboard provided, bouncing over the mill surround, climbing the outside of Dixon’s chimney, and descending inside the chimney and entering their place of work via the boiler house.” He ended his letter to the Department of Social Security: “Ask a silly question….”

Chimney found here

The letter was sourly received at the department’s offices in Carlisle. An official said: “Proper enquiries were instituted and there was no need for anyone to be flippant.” The department’s query was over an O H & S claim by an employee who injured his foot when taking a short cut to get to work by climbing over a wall.

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In Whitehall, the Department of Social Security said: “Speaking generally, the success of such a claim would depend on whether it was necessary for workers to climb the wall to get to work, and whether such a practice was prohibited by the firm. Every case is judged on its merits.”

(Published in the Daily Mail)

Waiting for the judge. More mug shots here

Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 7:51 am  Comments (44)  
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warning to wives of diplomats

When Pamela Egremont returned from Peking, she bought back a copy of the following circular to show John Julius Norwich.

Lady Pamela found here

It was typed entirely in capital letters but I can’t bring myself to do that to you. I have left the grammatical errors as they were written

“From the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Peking”

This is to inform all missions, especially the wives of other diplomats here in Peking, of the incident surrounding the sudden departure from Peking of the Sierra Leone Ambassador’s wife, Mrs Theresa Malomo Kojo Randall.

How beautiful is Sierra Leone?

Mrs Kojo Randall left suddenly to avoid scandal after her husband caught her with a packet of poison which was supposedly sent to her by her Guinean sweetheart whom she already has a 1 year old son for and from whom the ambassador snatched her away to come to Peking. This is the reason in fact why he did not realise she was already pregnant before. He married her and she had to come and undergo an abortion here in Peking on her arrival.

Terry-Poison found here

The poison was supposed to be used in cooking food for the ambassador to kill him so that Mrs Randall can easily return to her Guinean trader sweetheart in Freetown.

Well informed sources in Freetown said Mrs Randall confessed in Sierra Leone that she was advised to send for and use the poison for her husband by the wife of the First Secretary of the Embassy, Mrs Stella Saquee, who claimed vast experience in using such juju to keep her own husband quiet this is way he does not notice that she sleeps around with a lot of men here in Peking.

All Diplomatic Mission

Peking”

Juju found here

Anthony writes a reply about what he knows

The following letter* was written by Anthony Henley, Member of Parliament for Southampton from 1727 to 1734, to his constituents who had protested to him about the Excise Bill:

QE2 leaving Southampton found here

Gentlemen,

I received yours and am surprised by your insolence in troubling me about the Excise. You know, what I very well know, that I bought you.

Know What I Mean? found here

And I know, what perhaps you think I don’t know, you are now selling yourselves to Somebody Else; and I know, what you do not know, that I am buying another borough. May God’s curse light upon you all: may your houses be as open and common to all Excise Officers as your wives and daughters were to me, when I stood for your scoundrell corporation.

Magnificent Scoundrel found here

Yours, etc.,

Anthony Henley

(In the previous year, on 31 March, the Weekly Register had noted:

Lady Betty Berkeley, daughter of the Earl of that name, being almost fifteen has thought it time to be married, and ran away last week with Mr Henley, a man noted for his impudence and immorality but a good estate and a beau.)

* originally found in Christmas Crackers by John Julius Norwich

These Luxury Christmas Crackers are priced at £600 ($1000)

the art of letter writing

In the old days before email people seemed to put a lot more effort into their letter writing. Here are three great examples:

Harold Pinter

In his early play The Birthday Party, two mysterious men terrorize a third named Stanley as he cowers in a tawdry English rooming house. In post-absurdist fashion, Pinter denies his audience virtually all clarification of his characters’ histories prompting one frustrated viewer to write:

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“I would be obliged if you would kindly explain to me the meaning of your play. These are the points which I do not understand: 1. Who are the two men? 2. Where did Stanley come from? 3. Were they all supposed to be normal? You will appreciate that without the answers to my questions, I cannot fully understand your play.”

my favourite birthday party boy found here

Pinter replied: “Dear Madam: I would be obliged if you would kindly explain to me the meaning of your letter. These are the points which I do not understand: 1. Who are you? 2. Where do you come from? 3. Are you supposed to be normal? You will understand that without the answers to my questions, I cannot fully understand your letter.”

image found here

Harry S Truman

To Paul Hume, music critic who wrote a disparaging review of Truman’s daughter’s singing performance:

Mr Hume:

I’ve just read your lousy review of Margaret’s concert. I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”

Harry S Truman found here

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!


Groucho Marx

To Jerry Wald, producer of Peyton Place

Dear Jerry:

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed “Peyton Place.” As a matter of fact, I CAN tell you. I enjoyed it very much.

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In addition to enjoying the picture, it seemed that the whole evening had been planned by a master hand. My De Soto was whisked away from the front of the theatre so swiftly that I arrived at Romanoff’s in a Buick. There I rapidly got drunk, danced with Audrey Hepburn, looked down (and up) Jayne Mansfield’s knockers, had a fine lobster dinner and spent a good half hour rubbing someone’s legs under the table …. which, on investigation, turned out to be my wife’s.

Jayne Mansfield found here

It was a bang-up evening …. and that’s how I wound up.

Regards, Groucho

all but the disgusting dinner

When Verdi’s Aida was first performed, not everyone in the audience was enthralled….

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Dear Signor Verdi,

On the second of this month, attracted by the sensation which your opera Aida was making, I went to Parma. I admired the scenery, listened with great pleasure to the excellent singers, and took pains to let nothing escape me. After the performance was over, I asked myself whether I was satisfied. The answer was “No.”

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I returned to Reggio, and on the way back in the railroad carriage, I listened to the verdicts of my fellow travelers. Nearly all of them agreed that Aida was a work of the highest rank.

Thereupon I conceived a desire to hear it again, and on the 4th returned to Parma. I made the most desperate effort to obtain a reserved seat, and there was such a crowd that I was obliged to throw away five lire to see the performance in comfort.

I arrived at this decision: it is an opera in which there is absolutely nothing which causes any enthusiasm or excitement, and without the pomp of the spectacle, the public would not stand it to the end. When it has filled the house two or three times, it will be banished to the dust of the archives.

Now, my dear Signor Verdi, you can imagine my regret at having spent on two occasions 32 lire for these two performances. Add to this the aggravating circumstance that I am dependent on my family, and you will understand that this money troubles my rest like a terrible spectre. Therefore I address myself frankly so that you may send me the amount.

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Here is the account:

Railroad: One way 2.60 lire

Railroad: Return trip 3.30 lire

Theater 8.00 lire

Detestable dinner at the station 2.00 lire

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=15.90 lire Multiplied by 2= 31.80 lire

In the hope that you will extricate me from this embarrassment, I salute you from the bottom of my heart

BERTANI

Verdi’s reply, addressed to his publisher Ricordi May, 1872

As you may readily imagine, in order to save this scion of his family from the spectres that pursue him, I shall gladly pay the little bill he sends me. Be so kind, therefore, as to have one of your agents send the sum of 27 lire, 80 centesimi to this Signor Bertani. True, that isn’t the whole sum he demands, but for me to pay his dinner too would be wearing the joke a bit thin. He could perfectly well have eaten at home. Naturally, he must send you a receipt, as well as a written declaration that he promises never to hear another one of my new operas, so that he won’t expose himself again to the danger of being pursued by spectres, and that he may spare me further travel expenses!

Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 5:56 am  Comments (53)  
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Time to straighten the record

On October 29, 1934, Elliott White Springs wrote a letter to Time, politely correcting some inaccuracies in a story they had printed about him.

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“I found your report [TIME, Sept. 24] interesting. I am sure you want to keep your files accurate and suggest that they be changed slightly.

When I wish to dress up around the mills and wear a coat it is not of 1917 vintage, as you report, but was made in 1921. The straw-woven shoes are now no more, as at least a dozen old friends read your report and have supplied me with new pairs. The $20,000,000 with which I am credited is entirely a myth but since your article appeared I have received wires and letters from acquaintances of years gone by requesting immediate loans. I believe I am also safe in stating that I have been given the opportunity to finance at least half of the new inventions which have patents now pending.

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To offset that, however, my social popularity has increased as much as if I had learned to play the piano, gotten rid of halitosis, used Lifebuoy, or spoken to the waiter in French. . . .

Upon my recent visit to the marts of trade and the fleshpots of Egypt, your assurances as to my financial stability caused such interest that I feel my days as a wallflower are over.

The fact that my wife read the article also and spent several days shopping upon the strength of it will have to be charged to the debit side.

Every tailor in the country now feels it is time for me to buy a new coat and I think it only fair that when I do so they should give TIME a commission on the business.”

On Monday October 8, 1934, they printed an article about Diamond Jim Brady and his collection of precious gems.

Besides such curios as a diamond-tipped cane, he owned 30 complete sets of jeweled cuff links, studs, tie pins, fobs, watch chains, etc. A railroad man, he enjoyed blazoning the fact by wearing what became one of his most famed diamond arrangements— the Transportation Set.

image from here. click to enlarge

Most amusing to today’s public was a design of a Pullman car which Mr. Brady liked to pin on his underwear. Almost two inches long were his freight and passenger car cuff links. A bicycle-shaped stud was reminiscent of the goldplated, diamond-studded bicycle he gave to Lillian Russell, who kept it in a plush case when she was not riding it.

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But according to another letter to the editor penned by Lillian Russell’s daughter, Dorothy Russell Solomon de Castiglione Einstein O’Reilly Calvit, this fact was disputed.

My mother, Lillian Russell, was not even acquainted with Mr. Brady during the bicycle era. As for the vehicle itself, it had a goldplated handlebar with mother-of-pearl grips, no diamonds. The pedals were also goldplated. The bicycle was a gift from the Columbia Bicycle manufacturers in appreciation of the vast amount of publicity they derived from her using their product and because she had purchased so many of them, one for each member of the family. . . .

To Dorothy Russell Solomon de Castiglione Einstein O’Reilly Calvit, who won fame of her own by upsetting the will of her stepfather, the late Alexander Pollock Moore (TIME, May 4, 1931), thanks for a description of her mother’s bicycle. Confronted with it, Author Morell sticks to his story.

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Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 8:03 am  Comments (36)  
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