Esteemed sirs and Mrs Cary Smith,
I write to you on a matter of supreme importance to my material and moral well-being.
Last week a cookery book I ordered from you arrived by post. To my dismay I at once noticed the complete absence of pictorial cues contained in it, whether drawings or photographs. Indeed, since even the covers are plain I had to wait for my good friend Ann Summers to call on me, as she does once every week, before I could be sure what it was about. Being English she is very talented, and is especially skilled at making deep appraisals of long-standing fallacies.
Dear strangers, at this point I mentally picture a puzzled frown begin to straddle your noble brows.
So please know this - fools, friends, and family have all commented at some point on my unusual ability to write without being able to read, a quirky by-product of an unorthodox and pharmaceutically oversupplied developmental environment which to you, as non-Greeks, is doubtless inconceivable. Although for me this has resulted in sporadic difficulties, I have generally got by - though it would be fair to say my life-path has thus far been tortuous. Incestuous, even.
But in this case you may imagine my particular distress, for I was heavily relying on deriving both the ingredients and the method of preparation of the dishes through introspection and visual interrogation of the illustrations, assisted by my superb powers of inferential logic and deduction, superior ability in differential calculus and my adherence to a strictly-observed, not to say Spartan, Buddhist regimen. After all, I am Greek.
Alas, however! Once Ann had interpreted the essence of the book to me it was immediately plain how this essential crutch to self-development and worldly knowledge had been cruelly struck aside from under me, and that what should have been my culinary vade mecum is no more serviceable as a work of reference than a collapsed soufflé. It will not now be for me to learn to savour from its perfect-bound pages the delightful 'oeuf à l'eau bouillante Delia', the marvels of the 'gros saucisson avec pommes de terre à l'école anglaise des années soixante', nor yet the aromatic mysteries of the 'spaghetti bolognese al forno nordamericano'. Having foolishly forgotten that not all others are blessed with my esoteric mix of mental modalities, I ordered the book by phone from you, Mrs Smith, but fatally failed to check its illustrational status.
I pray with all the fervour my earnest heart can muster that you may be able to substitute a similar, lavishly pictorial volume - one equally devoted to the sorcery of the saucepan - of comparable value.
Should this be impossible, my dear, inestimable vendors, I would implore you to exchange my own virginal volume for its advertised near-equivalent, 'An illustrated history of the siege of Stalingrad'.
PS - Please check your street address, as I believe it may be in error.
Reply from Erik Kowal (Reading - England)