Further to today’s earlier post (I know, you don’t get one for weeks and then two come along at once!), if I say so myself I seem to be doing quite well on the published-letter front this week, with this pithy comment on this article from last Saturday’s Grauniad. Such a serious subject too – the facetiousness is shocking.
Something else that was funny about both letters was the responses I got after emailing them. Not all papers use an autoreply, but when they do these are fairly boring, just saying basically ‘thanks, do not reply to this, your letter will be considered for publication, goodbye’, so it was curious that the Observer’s one rounded off with the words ‘It was good of you to take the trouble to write’ – which I’m sure is someone’s idea of being nice but does come across as rather weary and not a little patronising. Then again, there are surely worse ways of telling the vast majority of correspondents that their particular bizarre rant hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of appearing anywhere near the paper.
Then, when I sent the Guardian one, an even stranger thing happened. All newspaper letters pages tell you to enclose, in addition to a full postal address, a contact phone number. They publish neither, but I’ve always assumed the latter is required in case they want to print the letter but something ambiguous in it needs clarifying quickly, or they want to edit it and need to check with you(!) that you’re happy with the edited version. Certainly on all the occasions I’ve written to papers none has ever rung me up to say anything at all, even when they do go ahead and publish it, invariably in edited form. So imagine my surprise when, a few minutes after sending the pithy one about sperm donation – the sort of letter, to be fair, one frivolously tosses off with little real expectation that any room will be found for it in such an august organ – my mobile rings and a lady who sounds a bit like a librarian thanks me for it and tells me with not so much as a dirty snigger that ‘we are considering it for publication in tomorrow’s paper’. How very civilised!
I confess that I have since written another (actually serious) letter to the Guardian about something else entirely, although whether I’ll score three in a row remains to be seen (tomorrow or Tuesday, perhaps – watch this space). I haven’t had a phone call, anyway, so maybe they’re on to me. Either way, I won’t go into detail on it just yet as there’s a long story behind it which deserves a post all of its own – regardless of publication in the Grauniad, or indeed any newspaper at all.