• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 01

Matter of an Unspecified Kind

Dear Shop Owners at No.28b Fore St,

Once again, I am writing to you concerning your advertisement printed in the Blemingfield Times. Last Saturday, as I was drinking my breakfast tea, my husband Gordon placed the aforementioned paper on our kitchen table saying, “Doreen, breathe deep, they have done it again.” When I saw your advert, Dead Peoples Stuff for Sale, I dropped my teacup and almost scalded my poodle Cherry who was asleep under the table. Next, I screamed, wept and consequently developed such a throbbing migraine that I was obliged to retreat to a darkened room for over 36 hours.

As I mentioned in my previous five letters (of which I have sent copies to Madam Mayor of Blemingfield, the editor of the Blemingfield Times and her majesty the Queen) I demand that you remove your advert. I repeat: dead people cannot be paired to the word stuff. To stuff is to gorge, to fill up, and to stick inside a meat pie. The word stuff describes matter of an unspecified kind. Our ancestors bequeath personal property, as my late mother left me her Persian lamb coat (though I would have preferred the china.)

In the sole answer I have received from you, Shop Owners, you write that Dead People’s Stuff For Sale is a “joke”. You claim, it is “funny” and requires “ a sense of humour.”

Shop Owners, must I remind you that I once brought an entire flower-arranging session of the Women’s Institute to their knees when I quipped that, “I had been put in an orchid situation.”


Matter of an Unspecified Kind

Shop Owners at No.28b my complaint is about terminology. As my best friend Barbara Rafferty always said, (before her untimely death from a bout of shingles caught from Blackpool beach) words matter. Barbara was a Bronze medal Regional Scrabble Champion, and a local historian. When she died, she left a request for her funeral elegy to consist of 150 expressions to describe dying. Shop Owners, I share part of the elegy with you: She slips her cable, her spirit is set forth, gilded away. She hands in her accounts, gives up the ghost, dies the death, takes the ferry and the silver cord is loosened.

Shop Owners, my grieving tears smudge my ink and seal the envelope of this letter. It will be my final epistolary effort. My husband Gordon will post it tonight. If your advert appears again next weekend, I warn you that I will not be held accountable for my actions.

Be warned,

Yours faithfully,
Dorothy Halliway