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Letter From Aunt Ethel

by Aunt Ethel

Featherstonedough Manor
Lower Fotheringay on Strognobbin, Derybshire
12th July, Year of Our Lord 2009

My dearest nephew Eric,

I write in reply to your missive of the 11th of this month. I had trouble reading your message since you crammed so much onto such a small postcard. For example, it appears you described these men you encountered as "tankers", but the first letter is crooked and I presume you intended to use a word I Do Not Like. I expect you will perform an act of penance for your impure thought. In future, please use the perfumed note paper and envelopes I give you every year on your birthday - postcards are for common people and tourists from the Continent, not genteel folk of good upbringing.

I do not approve of you associating with strange men you encountered in a field. It is one thing if they are playing polo or riding to the hounds, but playing with toys in an attempt to entice young lads to join them is most unsavory, not to mention the fracas that apparently erupted between them and ended with tears and a shooting. You will kindly remember that a gentleman fights only in the ring or to defend the honour of a young lady. The only one you described who sounds remotely acceptable is Mister Phillip - if he owns a castle then he is probably from a good family (unless he is the son of some nouveau riche tradesman who has only recently come into money). Since he has a pet insect, he is mostly likely eccentric and therefore a member of the nobility.

It pains me to remind you that puns are the lowest form of humour, intended only to cause pain to anyone who hears them. If you cannot conjour a witty turn of phrase, it would be best to hold your pen in abeyance. I was especially disturbed by your callous reference to the Spanish Armada - you should recall that Farqhuar Featherstonedough, your great-great-great-great-uncle twice removed on your paternal grandmother's side, served under Drake and died at sea when he fell overboard trying to respond to a taunt from a Spaniard who had lost his trousers. Our family hasn't touched sherry ever since. Mister James was right not to laugh - his family probably lost a close relative to the Spaniards too.

I await your next epistle. I trust you will always remember to carry a clean handkerchief and behave like a gentleman, even when playing rugby. Your uncle Ramsbottom sends his regards and we look forward to seeing you over the Michaelmas weekend.

Your Aunt Ethel