Helpful Hints No 3

How To Deal With Junk Mail

July 23rd

I caught up with my junk mail return service today.

I suppose I should be used to it by now but it still never ceases to amaze me just how much of this unwanted garbage lands on my hall floor; it’s only four weeks since I last dealt with it and there must be fifty letters at least. When you take that over a year, and add to it the supermarket flyers, carpet cleaning offers, Wicks catalogues, freebie newspapers and sundry other bumf that infiltrates my letter box it amounts to a lot of paper. Maybe not requiring raw material of rainforest dimensions, as some might exaggerate, but certainly a decent-sized copse.

At first I used to content myself with merely dropping my junk mail in the waste bin. Later I took to opening it, discarding the contents, sealing up the pre-paid reply envelope found inside, and posting it back to from whence it came. This of course meant that the companies who send me the junk mail end up paying the postage on the letter whilst have nothing to show for it, and of course causing the pendulum to swing my way a little.

Recently I refined the service, causing the pendulum to swing even farther in my direction. What I do now is open two junk mail letters at a time, take out the contents, put the contents of letter ‘A’ into the pre-paid reply envelope from letter ‘B’, and vice versa, then send them back. I’ve no idea as to the reaction of the person at the other end who opens them. Probably apathy. But then I don’t care.

A refinement of the above idea, which I have done quite a few times, is to actually fill in the order forms of two junk mail offers and return them in the wrong envelopes. Except for my credit card details, which I falsify just in case, I fill them in absolutely correctly, age, address, where to leave the parcel if I am out etc. For example the other week I received in the same post a plant catalogue and the offer of the latest in deaf aids. I ordered four dozen daffodil bulbs from the deaf aid people and two deaf aids from the plant catalogue people. I have yet to receive a reply from either of them.

Now you might think that a plant catalogue firm, having received an order for two deaf aids, would pass the letter on to the deaf aid people, but you would be wrong. Apparently plant catalogue companies are only interested in selling plants; you could be as deaf as a post for all they care as long as you buy a hundred onion sets or a bag of early cropping seed potatoes.

Similarly you might suppose that the deaf aid company, having wrongly received an order for four dozen daffodil bulbs, would see to it that it reached its correct destination. After all there is a good chance that the man who sent the order is deaf, so you wouldn’t expect them to knowingly withhold from him the joy of seeing his daffodils blossom come spring, even if he wouldn’t be able to hear them rustle in the breeze. Especially as he wouldn’t be able to hear them rustle in the breeze. But again, no.

And it isn’t just the plant catalogue and deaf aid companies who are so cold and uncaring. Since I started doing it I must have sent at least a couple of dozen orders to the wrong address and I have yet to hear so much as a whisper from any of them. Seemingly there is zero liaison between companies, who are apparently only interested in selling their own goods. Well cut my legs off and call me Shorty!

I have yet to meet the person who likes receiving junk mail, so with this in mind here’s a thought – why doesn’t everyone take a leaf out of my book and do as I do. It takes little effort, and there’s no need to go to the trouble of swapping over the contents of the envelopes, just send the empty pre-paid envelope back. If everyone were to do this there would be no more junk mail after about three months.


The Inflatable Husband

July  22nd 2006

The inflatable rubber man (called The Inflatable Husband) arrived in the post this morning in plain packaging. It wasn’t as plain as The Inflatable husband! What a disappointment. I couldn’t have been more disappointed if The Trouble had given me a promise and I jumped into bed to find she’d changed into Margaret Beckitt.

The Inflatable Husband is only one metre tall, as I suspected, not a normal-sized man with a one metre long cock, but not only that, it hasn’t even got a cock. It resembles the picture of it on the box about as much as I resemble George Clooney, which isn’t very much in case you’re wondering girls. (And if you are wondering what I look like you can find out by going to this page , although I must confess the photo was taken some time ago. In fact the original was in sepia.)

But I digress. As I said The Inflatable Husband is not at all like the picture on the box, which is of a tall, good-looking, bronzed, bare-chested Lothario with a toned six pack – in reality it looks more like the Roswell alien from space which fetched up in America some time ago, or a giant jelly baby.

Why would a woman want to buy such an object? It can’t be for the reason that a man buys an inflatable rubber woman (Atkins Down The Road and I excepted), to have sex with it, because it hasn’t got a cock. Unless there’s some way you can attach a dildo to it, but if there is it isn’t apparent. And anyway why would a woman want to attach a  dildo to a 1 metre inflatable rubber man unless she’s into dwarves? In which case she should go out and get herself a real dwarf, I’m sure there are plenty of them going short, if you’ll pardon the expression.

I suppose an optimist might say that the valve with which you blow it up could be a penis but as it’s only half an inch long and in the middle of its back that might be straining credulity a little too far, even for a supreme optimist.

It’s certainly not going to be any use as an artificial car passenger, that’s for sure. I’ve tried it and it looks ridiculous. You can either stand it up or, with great difficulty, sit it down. The idea of the artificial passenger is of course to fool the police into believing it’s a real passenger but I don’t think even our police are thick enough to be fooled by a one metre high inflatable rubber man stood up on the seat, and if you sit it down they wouldn’t be able to see it.

Atkins suggested we could try pumping it up a bit more until it was man-sized, above five feet tall he reckoned we could get away with, but by the time we’d pumped it up to five feet tall it was five feet wide and we couldn’t get in the car, let alone sit it down in it. Still it was only £7 so I wasn’t expecting too much from it, and it was worth a try.

A Bug

July 21st 2006

Help! While I was in Lanzarote I picked up a bug.

Not the sort of bug that lays you low and has you rushing for the relief of the lavatory every five minutes for another quick burst of pot spraying, but the letter-writing bug.

Why I should have picked up this bug in Lanzarote I have no idea, especially as I didn’t even write a postcard while I was over there, let alone a letter, but I hadn’t got the bug when I left for Lanzarote so Lanzarote must be where I picked it up. (In fact I considered sending a postcard to Atkins Down The Road thanking him for the removal of the You Twat problem, as I’d been keeping an eye on his scribblings while I was away, but The Trouble said we’d probably get back before the card if the Lanzarote mail delivery system was half as lackadaisical as their waiters, so in the end I didn’t bother).

I’ve had the letter-writing bug twice before and by the time I finally managed to get it out of my system I’d compiled Dear Air 2000 and Dear Coca-Cola, books of correspondence between me and, respectively, airline companies and manufacturers of food and drink.

The problem, and the reason for my cry for help, is because I’m having difficulty in finding a suitable subject as the target for my wind-up letters this time round. I’ve thought maybe travel companies such as Thomas Cook and Go Greek but that would be in roughly the same area as Dear Air 2000. Perhaps a better possibility I have under consideration is letters to the firms who advertise in newspapers, such as stairlift firms and companies who advertise Trousers At Half High Street Prices etc, which would seem like an area I might be able to have a bit of fun with. “Dear Stannah Stairlifts, I am writing this letter from halfway up my stairs where my Stannah Stairlift has stuck again….”. “Dear Trousers At Half High Street Prices, your trousers may well be half the price it costs on the high street but then they should be, as after my wife put them in the washer at your recommended wash cycle they shrunk to half the size they were when I took delivery of them…”

But I’m not sure. So if any of you out there in Blogland has any ideas for a suitable subject I’d be very grateful if you could let me have them.

The Woman From Glossop

July 19th 2006

On the flight home, due to a mix-up at the check-in desk, The Trouble and I were split up and I found myself seated next to a Woman from Glossop who spent the entire flight telling the man seated the other side of her all about her timeshare apartment in Peurto del Carmen, the main resort in Lanzarote.  

Like me the Woman from Glossop had been split up from her spouse on the flight but apparently this had been arranged on purpose as they ‘always sat apart on flights as we see enough of each other while we’re in Lanzarote’. I have no doubt that it was the Man from Glossop who insisted on these travelling arrangements, indeed if I had been him not only would I have insisted on a separate seat but it would have been on a separate aeroplane. Prior to the flight I knew next to nothing about timeshare apartments, which is about as much as I want to know, but by the time we’d landed at Manchester Airport about a million hours later the Woman from Glossop had ensured that I knew much more about them than I wanted to know, to the power of ten.
Her current apartment, ‘south-facing, veranda, two bedrooms both with en- suite, loads of storage space and a communion pool (I think she meant communal pool but you never know, perhaps the timeshare complex has a resident vicar and they have a Baptism ‘n Barbecue Night), was her third, all of them in Puerto del Carmen, the present one acquired in 1999, the first – no en-suite unfortunately, but a bidet – acquired in 1985. At first the Woman from Glossop had just the one week’s timeshare entitlement per year but by now she and the Man from Glossop were up to six weeks per year, in two week segments.

During the last eighteen years they had never been anywhere else for a holiday other than to their timeshare apartment in Lanzarote.
Now I’ve nothing against Lanzarote – you’re certainly not going to die from over-excitement there but in a clean, easy going, always nice weather, not-too-many-Germans sort of place, it is ideal. But six weeks there every year? While places like Provence and Tuscany and Crete go unvisited?

I learned that for the remaining forty six weeks of the year the Woman from Glossop and the Man from Glossop spend their time in Glossop, saving up to spend the other six weeks in Lanzarote. They never went anywhere else, so the Woman from Glossop informed the Man not from Glossop seated the other side of her, because if they did they wouldn’t be able to afford their full quota of six weeks in Lanzarote. Now I have been to Glossop – by mistake I must admit, I got on the wrong bus – and it is not the sort of place you would wish to spend forty six weeks of the year in, indeed forty six hours would be more than enough, and that’s provided you found something to do there, which is doubtful, unless you are into watching the traffic lights change.

Yet this couple had deliberately chosen to live out their lives in it for forty six weeks in every year, and the other six weeks in Lanzarote. Nowhere else on Earth existed for them. Their entire life consisted of being in Glossop or Lanzarote or the twenty-five mile stretch of road between Glossop and Manchester Airport, a road only slightly more enjoyment enhancing than the road to perdition.

Can you credit this? They had deliberately consigned themselves to a world without France and Italy and Greece, a world where the Lake District and the Cotswolds and the Yorkshire Dales don’t exist, a place where Edinburgh Castle and York Minster and Stonehenge might just as well be on the Moon. What sort of person can do this? The mind boggles. Mine did, on the flight back. And whilst it was boggling I fell asleep and thankfully didn’t wake up until we had started the descent to Manchester Airport. When I did The Woman from Glossop was telling the Man not from Glossop that next year she and the Man from Glossop hoped to be going to Lanzarote for seven weeks. Still, that’s one less week in Glossop.