Belfast Telegraph

Sorry, Sir Richard Branson, but your letters are just Virgin on the annoying ...

By Lindy McDowell

Dear Sir Richard Branson, I've been meaning to write to you for such a long time. And I must begin with an apology. All those letters you've written to me and I've never replied until now. I'm sorry for being so remiss.

You've been writing to me on a monthly basis, Rich, since ... oh, about forever it seems. Excuse the first name familiarity, but I think I know you well enough to use the name your friends - including that ex-Dr Who bloke - call you.

You, I notice, are a bit more formal in your letters to me. Dear Householder, you call me. A form of address, if I might say so, that always seems to me to have a slight North Korean ring about it.

Anyway, Rich, you have been writing for years and I think it's time I recognised your persistence and indeed commitment in stationery and postage.

You always talk about your TiVo when you write. You want me to have a look at your TiVo. You want me to have a TiVo too.

Richard, call me clueless, but I have no idea what exactly a TiVo is. Well, ok, I do have a sort of idea. But, like the free HD box and installation you also dangle before my eyes, it is irrelevant. Apart from anything else, I notice in the very small print that to avail of this free installation bit I need to already have a Big Kahuna bundle. I do not have a Kahuna bundle of any size, Rich.

Anyway it is irrelevant because I believe I am signed up for all eternity with "another provider".

Nonetheless, I do not want you to think I am ungrateful for your many, many, many letters to me, your Dear Householder.

In the latest you even tell me I have been specially selected for an exclusive offer. (Well, we just can't give it to anyone, you say in brackets). This exclusive offer you have worked out, will save me £455.89. And 89p! I love that bit. It's January. Every 89p counts.

Anyway, Richard, back to the main thrust of my message ...

You're really going to have to stop writing to me. Much as I love getting letters, the environmentalist in me fears that down the years a small forest has been felled in my name alone. And all, as I say, for nowt.

You see there are others, Rich. You are not my only unsolicited correspondent. In the batch of mail in which I took delivery of your latest jaunty note, I also had missives from BT (I know that one may upset you); Eurospar, offering me their chicken fillets; Lindsay Ford, whoever she is, offering a look at her Ka; someone offering to insulate my windows; a menu card for Gaze Chinese restaurant (ok, I might keep that one); a calendar with gospel quotes from a local church; a brochure about cruises (with the tantalising strapline 'Fred's enjoyment promise'); and something in a sealed, plain white envelope which, frankly, I can't be bothered opening after getting through all of the aforementioned. ­­

Sadly, Rich, and I know you may be shocked by this bit, it is all now filed under "recycling tub". I am sure you and other entrepreneurial pen pals feel it is a good way to keep in touch with Dear Householders like myself, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to be blunt here.

All this bumph ... it all just gets on my wick.

To sum up Rich, we can't go on like this. You're wasting your time. And my time. And, I fear, possibly even the earth's valuable resources. Although right now "my time" trumps those other two concerns.

It's not you, Rich. It's me. I want you to save your postage and your lovely glossy stationery and your flattering, chatty words and your exclusive offers for someone who truly deserves them. Not some ingrate like me who has an issue with added recycling pressures. There is a Dear Householder out there somewhere just waiting to hear from you, I know it. And I hope it works out for you, Rich, I really do.

Maybe you'll even drop me a line someday and let me know how you get on?

Yours, Lindy

Why I’m not made up about Marilyn deal

That Marilyn Monroe, she’s dead gorgeous, isn’t she? And if you want to look like Marilyn, who died 50 years ago, what better way than to use the cosmetics range she’s posthumously promoting? Max Factor has signed the deceased as the “new” face of the brand. Apparently this is possible because someone in turn owns rights to brand Marilyn.

So, not only an afterlife then. A whole new aftercareer. Whatever happened to taste and sensitivity, though? It would seem that in the harsh world of commerce it’s not only beauty that’s only skin deep.

Is jail best option for homeless alcoholic?

News from the local courts this week — in Belfast a homeless alcoholic was sentenced to two months imprisonment for stealing a bottle of vodka priced under a fiver. The magistrate’s hands were tied because, as she pointed out, he had over 200 previous convictions. Do we all really think, though, that imprisonment will make any difference?

We can’t blame the police — they were doing their job. Ditto the shopkeeper who lost stock. And, as I say, the court had no option. But surely we could find another way to deal with such lost souls. There must be another way.

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