Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Country Affair

During a recent visit to the Hair Dresser, I was flicking through an old Tatler, when I came across an interview with Liz Hurley, in which she enthusiastically extolled the virtues of living in the Country.
She was pictured at her farm in the glorious Cotswold countryside, draped seductively over one of her Gloucester old spots wearing a Dior ball gown and a pair of diamond encrusted Manolo Blahnik stilettos. (Liz, not the Pig.)
"There's less sex in the city than there is in the country because it's just, well, sexier here..." she purred.
"When I close my eyes and think of England, I'm not in a fancy restaurant in Knightsbridge, but am lolling, scantily clad, in front of a roaring fire."

Having resided in both town and country, and witnessed first hand the behaviours and habits indigenous to both sets of dwellers, I am inclined to agree with her.
Country folk seem far more disposed to indulge in extra marital frolicks than urbanites. Or perhaps Townies have just as many affairs but don't get caught out.
The frantic pace of London life, combined with its abundance of easily accessible meeting places, afford its inhabitants a degree of obscurity, should they find themselves wishing to indulge in a spot of hanky panky.
As well as being favourable from a logistical point of view, there are a plethora of excuses and alibis with which to exonerate oneself, should suspicion be aroused by ones absence; late trains, tube strikes, meetings, traffic jams etc.
It's incredibly easy for a city philanderer to whisk his mistress off to a nearby hotel for an afternoon in the sack. For the country person however, the risks involved in conducting such impromptu trysts, are far greater.

It would be fool hardy in the extreme for Bob the Farmer to take his bit of stuff to any establishment within a 50 mile radius, for fear of recognition. The insidious web of rural life is all-entangling; the solid infrastructure of the Farming Community and it's endless social off shoots (Young Farmers, Agricultural Discussion Clubs, Hunt Skittles, Chutney Making Club) means that you "can't fart without someone knowing about it." (as my Father-in-Law is fond of saying.) Everyone knows someone who knows someone, and someone will be watching you even if you don't know it.
Should you be half-witted enough to check into a local hotel with your squeeze, you are sure to bump into your Gardener/Cleaning Lady/Post Man/Vicar, just as you emerge from a side door, flushed and dishevelled from your lustful romping. The dearth of "safe" meeting places, combined with fear of recognition, (and the subsequent scandalized chuntering of your fellow country folk) would dampen the most fervent ardour, and would explain why us Country Folk resort to meeting in hay barns, fields, ditches, down tracks, and even up trees.

Emma and Miles are great friends of ours, who live on a 2000 acre sheep farm in Rannoch, Scotland, which they recently took over from Miles' Father.
They met at our Wedding, where Emma was Bridesmaid (we met at School) , and Miles was Jasper's Best Man. Apart from being fantastic fun and highly entertaining company, Emma is beautiful, and charming with such an irrepresibly jolly nature that it's impossible not to love her.
Miles is kind, loveable, slightly shambolic and highly eccentric - a most endearing fellow. He is the epitome of genteel penury; his elbows protrude from his cashmere pull overs and his Jermyn Street cords are held up with baler twine. He scratches his head a lot, and is prone to stopping talking mid-sentence, and gazing vaguely into the distance.

Be warned though! His dreamy countenance and bumbling manner, conceal an insatiable libido and the sexual appetite of a rutting rhino. In the 12 months preceding his marriage to Emma, he appeared to be suffering from a surfeit of testosterone which manifested itself in the form of a prolonged spell of frenzied fornicating with any willing female to cross his path. He couldn't help himself.
Emma would always know when a confession was imminent, because he would shuffle in, hanging his head, and clutching a bottle of her favourite Chanel No 5 . Her merry nature and stoic optimism was tested to the limit by his repeated transgressions. So grave were her reservations, that she almost called off the Wedding, but her faith was rewarded. He walked out of the Church a new man, bursting with pride, and so besotted with his radiant bride that he didn't even ogle the bridesmaids. His lustful tendencies are strictly confined to the marital bed, and notwithstanding an unfortunate (and apparently incurable) habit of making pelvic thrusting motions when in the company of attractive females, he has been a doting and faithful Husband. Until this Spring....

Last January, Emma and Miles refurbished the annexe that adjoins their farmhouse, and took on a lodger, a thoroughly nice chap called Hugo who has just graduated from RAC and landed a plum job at Savills in Bedminster.
He has proved to be a model tenant. Quiet, courteous and obliging; he is happy to turn the horses out on a Sunday morning if Emma and Miles are hung over after a party. He is chronically shy, and prefers to keep himself to himself. Emma's attempts to find him a girlfriend have been in vain; she invited him to supper once along with the lovely girl groom from the neighbouring estate. Having met her on several occasions and found her a quiet and gentle soul , she was convinced that she had found Hugo's future wife. As it transpired, her saintly demeanour was just a foil; she tottered through the front door three quarters of an hour late on a pair of vertiginous red stilettos, tugging ineffectually at her pelmet sized mini skirt, from which protruded a pair of sparrow legs mottled blue with cold.
She downed the proffered champagne, pulled a face and requested "Voddy", which she proceeded to guzzle as though her life depended on it. During the starter, she yanked her boob tube down to display a unicorn tatooed on her left breast. Poor Hugo almost choked on his lobster; his terrified expression elicited a scornful cackle from his meretricious neighbour, who promptly declared him a "stiff" and suggested that a rigorous session of fornicating would "loosen him up a bit."

By the time the Port went round, he was deathly pale despite the proximity of the blazing log fire. A quick look under the table confirmed Emma's suspicions. Zany was clearly practised at multi tasking; groping at Hugo's crotch with one hand , whilst emptying port down her throat with the other.
"Well, it's been a lovely evening, but I think I'm ready to call it a night." Emma trilled with a gracious smile.
"It's only 10 0 clock! We 'aven't even done any Jaegerbombs!" Zany squawked in protest.
Emma took her home in the land rover. By the time she returned, Hugo had beaten a hasty retreat to the annexe and bolted the door. Next morning, she caught him just as he was leaving for work and apologised for her appalling mis-judgement.

"I'm so sorry Hugo. I've only ever seen her when she's out on the horses and she looked so nice, and quiet."
"It's always the quiet ones. " he replied with a grim smile, and drove off. He has declined all subsequent dinner invitations, and rarely socialises after work. With his Land Agent exams fast approaching he has been studying late into the night and is rarely seen during the day, so Emma was surprised and pleased when he knocked timidly on the kitchen door one Saturday morning.
"Come on in!" she beamed, pulling out a chair at the kitchen table.
."Erm, I just wondered if I could have a word." he replied, looking awkward.
"Of course. Would you like a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich?"
"No thankyou." he mumbled, perching stiffly on the edge of the chair. She noticed he was chewing his lower lip.
"Are you alright?" she asked, putting down the saucepan and looking at him with concern.
He nodded his head and stared at the floor, refusing to meet her gaze."What's the matter? Is the boiler playing up again? "
Hugo shook his head.

"Come on, whatever it is TELL ME. We can fix it in no time." she told him kindly, putting some toast and jam in front of him. He glanced up at her with an agonized expression, and flushed.

"It's nothing to do with the annexe."

"Well what is it then?"

"It's rather delicate you see. It's about you and Miles."

"What about me and Miles?" Emma frowned.

"Oh God." Hugo said, shaking his head.

"For heavens sake Hugo, tell me what's bothering you!" Emma cried in exasperation.

"It's your love-making! It's very noisy and it's keeping me awake at night!" he blurted out.

Emma stared at him for a second and started roaring with laughter.

"You great dolt! I thought it was something serious!" she hooted.

Hugo stared at her for a second, and then let out a high pitched titter of relief.

"I'm awfully sorry. I hate to mention it; it's just that all that banging makes it rather hard to concentrate you see. And if I don't get a good nights sleep, I can't function properly in the office."

"You don't need to explain. We're the ones who should be sorry." Emma chuckled, filling up the tea pot.

He grinned good naturedly and started buttering a piece of toast.

"I wouldn't mind normally. I don't mind the evenings so much because i can just turn the radio up a bit, but last Wednesday you went at it all night." he guffawed, turning bright pink at his own daring.

"Last Wednesday?" Emma repeated.

"Yes." Hugo continued gaily, smothering his toast with damson jam. "You really upped the ante. I thought the wall was going to come down at one point!"

Emma stared blankly at him before replying.

"I was in France last Wednesday."

They looked at each other. The colour drained from Hugo's face. His jaw dropped open in dismay, revealing a mouth full of claggy, half chewed toast.

At that moment, the back door opened and Miles came in amidst a flurry of snow, followed by Jade, a buxom 19 year old from the local agricultural college, whose placement was a live-in job on the farm to assist during the lambing season.

She put the kettle on the Aga, and cast a furtive look at Emma before slipping back outside and disappearing into the gloaming.

Hugo gave a strangled squawk as the penny dropped, and turned the same colour as his crushed strawberry corduroys. He pushed his chair back to make his escape, but Emma pushed him back down. "Stay where you are!" she hissed.

"Oh God." he whimpered.

Miles was humming to himself as he rummaged in the larder for the Marmite, blissfully unaware us of the mini drama unfolding behind his back. He sat down at the table, rubbing his hands and smiling cheerily, oblivious to Hugo's appalled expression and Emma's narrow eyed scrutiny.

"Hello old chap! How's the cramming going?" he boomed, pouring himself a cup of tea.

Hugo made a strangled noise and slumped lower in his chair, as though hoping to slide out of view beneath the table.

"Is breakfast ready?" he asked, spooning sugar into the tea.

"Of course darling. Right away." trilled Emma in a saccharine voice.

She put his plate down in front of him. He returned her indulgent smile and patted her on the bottom.

"You must be very hungry darling." she said silkily.

"I am." he agreed enthusiastically. "Absolutely starving."

"I'm sorry i wasn't here to cook your breakfast last week my love. I do feel very guilty about that, especially when you were so busy."

"Don't worry. I managed." Miles said generously as he chomped on a sausage.

Charlie slid a bit further down in his chair.

"You must have been hard at it."

Miles nodded. "Bloody hard work last week. I was up all night."

"I bet you were." Emma replied sweetly.

Miles speared a piece of black pudding and shoved it in whole.

"I am lucky to have such a wonderful Wifey!" he simpered at her.

"Have you been sleeping with the sheep hand?" she enquired casually as she shook some cornflakes into her bowl.

Miles dropped his knife and fork with a clatter and stared at her with an expression of hurt outrage.

"I beg your pardon! Poppet! ! How could you ask such a thing?!"

Emma regarded him steadily for a second or two.

"Have you been sleeping with the sheep hand?" she repeated.

"Of course i haven't! How could you think such a thing?!" he cried.

Emma glanced at Charlie whose eyebrows were now level with the table top.


"Yes." he squeaked, hanging his head in shame.

The sheep hand was duly sacked (no pun intended), and I am happy to report that despite Miles' crepuscular activities, he and Emma are very happy and have just celebrated their 6th Wedding anniversary. As Emma pointed out, One Bottle of Chanel No 5 in six years of marriage isn't too bad - is it?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Memoirs Of A Pony-Mad Teenager.

In 1992, I was a pony obsessed, fourteen year old Tom Boy, with an abhorrence of anything remotely girly, and an aversion to the opposite sex.
If it couldn't walk, trot and canter, i didn't want to know. I remember feeling utterly bereft as i watched my friends succumb to the insidious lures of their burgeoning adolescence; I would listen to them giggling about their latest crushes and feel as though they were talking in a different language. Why would anyone with a Pony want a Boy too? How could they possibly think about anything else besides passing their C test, going clear in the Cross Country and winning Camp Cup?
During a Road Safety rally, Jane and Tammy turned to me and asked which member of New Kids On The Block I "fancied". I stared blankly at their expectant faces and replied "None of them."
They looked at me in open mouthed disbelief.
"You must fancy one of them. What about Joey?" Tammy persisted, mock swooning in the saddle.
I looked at her in disgust. "I think they're all gross, even Joey actually." I said stiffly.
There was a silence. They gaped at me. I stared back defiantly.
"Are you frigid?" asked Jane. Tammy started giggling.
"No, I just don't fancy boys." i snapped.
"Maybe you're a lezzy! Do you fancy Helga?" she snorted, gesturing to our terrifyingly butch Instructor, who had recently been caught en flagrante with her gelatinous lady friend in a portaloo at the Hunt Ball.
"You're so funny!" i sighed witheringly at them. My attempt to turn and canter away looking elegantly dignified was scuppered by my notoriously greedy pony flattening his ears and refusing to stop stuffing his face with grass. After much hauling on the reins and ineffectual flailing of legs against his drum-like belly, we shuffled away at a ragged trot with their laughter ringing in my ears.
Despite their taunts, that Summer was one of the happiest of my life. I would make a picnic lunch in a rucksack, and slip out into the misty dawn to catch my pony. I remember the sound of his hoof beats as he cantered towards me across the dew drenched field, before wedging his head into the bucket of pony nuts. We'd wander for miles, exploring bridle paths, jumping over fallen logs, stopping to pick plump blackberries from the hedgerows, and swimming in the rivers.
It would be early evening by the time we hacked home along the narrow dusty lanes.
Our local horse show always fell on the day before Pony Club Camp. Having spent the day playing gymkhana games in the scorching heat, and gamefully attempting to persuade my reluctant mount to walk across sheets of plastic and jump over staw bales (he objected violently to both tasks and aimed a vicious kick at the Judge, prompting our elimination on safety grounds) I would proudly tie any rosettes to his browband and we would potter home through the lengthening shadows, dusty and weary, but profoundly happy.

Camp was the highlight of the Pony Club Calendar.
Seven whole days of living, breathing and dreaming horses is unadultered bliss for a Pony mad child, and I would count down the days in a state of giddy anticipation, organising and re-organising my grooming kit, polishing my tack, and sprucing up my pony. I had read the Manual Of Horsemanship three times from cover to cover by the light of a torch under my duvet, and was desperately hoping to pass my C test. My practical knowledge of rugs, bandages, tack, and feed was exemplary, and my riding teacher assured me that i should pass, "provided that bugger behaves in the ridden test."
Realising that our success depended almost entirely on my pony's conduct, I crept out to his stable the night before camp and bribed him with apples and carrots, in the hope that he would reciprocate my kindness by not bucking me off.
Before i went to sleep, i knelt beside my bed and said a Prayer.
"Dear God, please let me not fall off when i am doing my C test. If you let me pass, i will eat all my peas and give all my pocket money to charity until I'm fifteen. Amen."

By twelve noon the next day, we had arrived at Camp, settled ASBO in his stable and were pitching my 4 man tent. My Father was always conspicuous by his absence on these occasions. When asked in the morning whether he would come to help set up, he would mutter vaguely about having a tennis playing comittment and drift off, leaving my Mother to get on with it. Her beauty had a mesmeric effect on the surrounding males. She would barely have laid out the ground sheet before the Fathers would start appearing like wasps around a jam jar. Buoyed up by a few lunch time pints in the Fox And Hounds, they would abandon their own efforts, and descend upon my Mother, leaving their poe face wives standing clutching handfuls of tent pegs and propping up half erected canvases. (She always declined their offers of help graciously but firmly.)

A few hours later, I was pulling my jodpurs on in preparation for the afternoons Mounted service. This was a very formal and rather long winded affair, led by the local Vicar who addressed his mounted congregation from atop a giant hay stack. The previous year, ASBO had demonstrated his flagrant disregard for the solemnity of the occasion by emitting a loud volley of farts during the sermon, eliciting giggling fits all round and a rollicking from Mrs Tilly, the universally feared DC.
I had just buttoned up my hacking jacket when Tammy and Jane rushed into the tent, breathless with excitement. It transpired that they had spied A Boy on their way back from the pony lines, and a very Handsome Boy at that. Having said that, there were only five boys at Camp that year so it didn't really say much.
I resisted the urge to pull a face as they raved about his "floppy hair" and "gorgeous brown eyes." They had discovered that his name was Oscar and he went to Eton. I listened drily as they described him as "really fit" with a "sexy smile."
"FFWOOOAARRR!!" growled Tammy like a lecherous builder, and they both dissolved into giddy laughter.
"If we don't go, we'll miss the Service." I said in a bored voice.
"OOOhh! Sorr-eeeee! We were forgot you're frigid! " they tittered.
"Brrrrr! it must be cold being a fridge! Do you need a jumper?" scoffed Tammy.
I scowled at them and stomped off to the stables.

In the days that followed, I realised that I was the only girl at Camp who didn't have a thumping great crush on Oscar. There was, it seemed, a love sickness endemic and i was the only one with immunity. Maybe I was a lezzy, i thought to myself one day as i lazed in my hammock reading "Jill's Gymkhana" and half watching a horde of lissome teenagers following him to the pony lines.
Wherever he went, they were ten paces behind him, fawning, giggling, and fluttering their eyelashes. If he went to the loo, they would lurk outside and wait for him to emerge. They would squabble over who sat next to him at breakfast, lunch and tea. They would encircle him and eye him lasciviously as he groomed his pony. A couple of the more brazen ones offered to clean his tack and polish his boots.
I was surprised to note that whilst he was unfailingly courteous to his pursuers, he remained largely indifferent to their advances. Given that two of his admirers were outrageously pretty, I started to wonder if he wasn't a lezzy too.
By the fourth day he had a slightly hunted look about him and i started to realise how the fox feels when the hounds are closing in. The girls were becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to attract his attention, and that evening, they ran him to ground in his caravan. He locked himself in whilst they hammered on the door and ordered him to come outside. They pressed their faces up against the windows like a bunch of starving Dickensian Waifs gazing hungrily at a suckling pig. When he drew the curtains in desperation, they set about rocking his caravan from side to side and cackling with laughter. One of them produced a tube of tooth paste and they daubed his windows with hearts and declarations of undying love. Milly was trying to prise the door open with a hoof pick, when the DC wobbled unsteadily around the corner on her bicycle, red in the face from too much port and screamed at them all to get back to bed. They squealed in horror and scampered off like bob tailed bunnies, and Oscar emerged looking shaken to survey the graffiti.
We awoke the next day to glorious sunshine. The traces of tooth paste were still visible on Oscar's bolt hole, and he didn't come into breakfast. There was a mutinous atmosphere, despite the beautiful weather. The girls knew that they were running out of time. Today was the last day. Tomorrow, Oscar would be gone and they wouldn't see him again until next year, although after this years experience, I very much doubted if he would ever attend a Pony Club Camp again.
The day passed uneventfully, until my glamorous 19 year old Sister turned up after lunch with her handsome boyfriend in tow, brandishing two bulging Threshers bags. The Ginger Beer that they had waved blithely under the District Commissioners nose, was actually 8 litres of Merry Down Cider smuggled in inside Decoy bottles; a simple but ingenious display of trickery which rendered us speechless with admiration.
Giddy with excitement, we hid our loot in our sleeping bags and planned to drink it after dark.
It was cross country schooling after lunch and I was trying in vain to saddle ASBO who had thus far thwarted my attempts by blowing himself up like a balloon so his girth wouldn't meet. The ride had already set off and I was starting to panic when a voice behind me asked "Can i help you with that?"
It was Oscar. I gawped at him. I must have looked as though i'd swallowed a pigeon.
"Um, Sorry. What? " I croaked.
"Your girth. Here, let me have a go." he said kindly. He stepped forward and grabbed the leathers. ASBO grunted, deflated like a balloon, then farted loudly. I went pink.
"Thankyou." I mumbled, shoving my hat on to hide my blushes.
"You're name's Jessica isn't it?" he smiled.
"Uh-huh." I said.
"I'm Oscar. "
"I know. Hhm hmm." I replied, inwardly squirming at my uninspiring response.
Why on earth did I care? He's only a silly boy after all....
"I must go or I'll be late. Thanks for your help." I mumbled, glancing up at him. He was quite tall, with tousled brown hair. His face was tanned and there was a sprinkling of freckles across his nose. He smiled; his teeth gleamed white in his brown face and as he pulled down the stirrup leather I noticed how his sleeves were rolled up to reveal strong brown forearms.
I scrambled into the saddle and rode off feeling strangely light headed.
Later on that evening, when the sun had gone down and the Night Watch Man had done his final round, Tammy, Jane, Milly and I, seized our bottles of Merry Down and crept across the pitch black campsite to the Straw Barn. There was a moment of panic when someone swung a flashlight in our direction but we dived under a horsebox until the light had bobbed out of sight before continuing our treacherous journey. The others were already waiting for us and we opened the bottles, giggling madly, and started to drink.
By Midnight, we were feeling decidedly fuzzy around the edges and mindful that we had to take our C test the next day, we decided to go to bed. When we got back to our tent, Jane realised that we had left an empty cider bottle behind, so I doubled back to get it.
I was almost there when a figure stepped out from the shadowy barn. I froze and held my breath as the clouds parted and the moon lit up the clearing. It was Oscar.
We sat on a straw bale, breathing in the heady scent of baked earth and sweet hay, and listened to the horses moving in their stalls. There was a distant sound of raucous laughter from the main house accompanied by a succession of loud splashes. The Instructor's End Of Camp party had moved to the swimming pool. An Owl hooted in a nearby tree. I looked at Oscar. His face was a valley of hollows and curves in the phophorous light. He leant forward and kissed me.
It's a good thing that we were sitting down because my knees went all wobbly - and it wasn't the cider....

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Parking Tickets.

I procured my first Penalty Charge Notice in 2002, for failing to pay and display in The Market Place Car Park in Kingsford.
I was only nipping into the Off-License for a bottle of Pimms and I didn't have 60p in change for the meter. Having glanced around to ensure that there were no Traffic Wardens loitering nearby, i decided to risk it. I was only going to be 5 minutes after all.
I returned less than 10 minutes later to find a Parking Fine attached to my Wind Screen - It wasn't placed discreetly in the bottom corner either; In a blatant gesture of smug triumph, the Warden had stuck it gleefully right in the middle to make sure everyone got an eyeful.
That'll be sixty pounds of your hard earned cash please! it gloated, as people walked past staring.
I ripped it off angrily and glared around the car park, but the Traffic Warden had vanished. I noticed that the ticket was issued only five minutes after i left the car, which seemed monstrously unfair. I wondered if the odious little twerp had been lurking in the undergrowth waiting to pounce. I glared at the bushes in front of the car and hissed a few insults, just in case, before driving home in a temper.
I recounted the incident to my friend Ben, whose blithe disregard for Parking Laws has resulted in numerous fines and a County Court Judgement. As a first time offender, i was fairly confident that a polite letter of explanation to the people at Dorset Parking Services, would grant me a pardon.
"I'll say that i had to go and get change for the meter." I said.
"No way Man, they won't buy it."
"Why not? It could be the truth for all they know."
Ben sighed wearily.
"You don't get it Jess - These people don't care about the truth - they just want your money. You know what i mean? They're not Beings Of Light like you and me." he countered wisely.
I stared at him while he twirled a dredlock.
"So you're telling me that there is absolutely nothing i can do or say to avoid paying this fine?" i snorted.
He shook his head. "You've got no chance of being let off it. Don't even bother writing a letter. They'll know it's bollocks."

East Dorset District Council
Parsons Road

Dear Miss Benson,
I write with reference to your letter dated 01/10/02, regarding an excess charge ticket.
I was indeed parked in The Market Place Car park in Kingsford on 15/08/02. I was collecting my very elderly Aunt from Safeways Supermarket. I was unable to use their car park due to insufficient space.
I usually park in a disabled bay on these occasions, since my dear Aunt suffers from Scoliosis (Curvature of the spine) and it facilitates her tremendously if my car is parked close to hand and she does not have to cross any roads.
I arrived at the Market Place Car Park and hobbled over to to the ticket machine as fast as my Gouty Toe would allow. There was quite a queue and I became very nervous about the time elapsing because my Aunt becomes very distressed if i am late collecting her, as i am sure you can appreciate. She likes to think she is independent, but she is really a frail old thing, and is easily frightened.
On one memorable occasion, i was five minutes late meeting her outside The Greyhound Public House, where she was waiting with her shopping bags. Her carer (who has since been sacked for repeatedly kicking the cat), had gone inside the greengrocers for some runner beans. Whilst she was making her purchase, a huge hound came along, stuck its head into my Aunt's wicker basket, and gobbled up 2lbs sausages and a kilo of tripe!
The poor old dear was in shock when i reached her and had to be revived with a few swigs of brandy from the owner of the pilfering hound. (I think he must have been a tramp - he was terribly scruffy.)
Since that fateful day, my Aunt has suffered a phobia of waiting on her own in a public place. Her carer was given her marching orders thank heavens. I never liked her. She stank of mothballs.
I only left my vehicle unattended for about three minutes without a ticket, and i know i was taking a liberty in doing so, but what other choice did i have dear girl?
Please, i implore you to understand my predicament.
Tomorrow i am going to Tarrant Millford to visit the chemist for some gout remedy and meet my friend Mavis. She is a dear friend. Her Husband fought in the War and won lots of medals. He passed on five years ago and Mavis breeds Budgerigars now. Her son lives in London.
Do you have a son? Where do you live? I like the way you can put green on your letter. I only have an old typewriter at my disposal!
This has caused me great worry. I haven't much money; just enough to afford bread and milk really. I simply haven't got £60 to give you. I could sell my Edith Piaf records but that would take too long, and then you will charge me £1000! Please help me. I know i did wrong and in the eyes of the Lord Thou Shalt Not Steal and I have already sinned against him.
I am a burden on my family so please don't ask them for the money or they will tut at me even more than they do already. Can I pay a little at a time? Maybe eight pence a week?
I work part time for the Red Cross but it's voluntary.
I am ashamed of what I have done and scared of what is going to happen to me.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Miller.

A week later, i received the following letter:

East Dorset District Council
Parsons Road

Dear Mrs Miller,
Thank you for you letter dated 04/10/2002, regarding Penalty Charge Notice DSO1807564.
I am pleased to inform you that in this instance, I am willing to waive the £60 parking fine
However, I must point out that should you incur a penalty charge in the future, you are obliged to settle the debt, in full, within the allocated time, to avoid legal action.

Yours sincerely

Jane Benson (Miss)