Friday, June 04, 2010

How to lose the plot with lost luggage

Time to return to one of WARTE's featured books - Ronald Pelham's 1948 classic, How shall I word it?

Regular readers will recall that Mr Pelham provides standard correspondence for all situations, however unlikely or specific. What, for instance, would you do if you discovered you'd left your large portmanteau on a train? Well, naturally you'd write to the Superintendent of the Lost-Luggage Department.

SIR,

I travelled yesterday from ____________ to London by the 12.30 train, and on arrival at the terminus found that a large portmanteau of mine was missing.

I saw all my luggage labelled at _______________, and gave it in charge of a porter who undertook to see it placed in the luggage van. I must, therefore, complain of negligence on his part. The portmanteau, which bears my full name and address, contains property of great value, and I must ask you to make immediate inquiries into the matter.


It's interesting that although the station of departure is left blank in Pelham's book, the author is 100% certain of his reader's destination. The negligence of the porter in this instance sounds simply frightful. One wonders whether he might be bent as the proverbial nine-bob bit and flogging the passenger's property down the local boozer.

Next time on WARTE: you're a tailor seeking business between seasons and want to impress your customer with a special offer in a letter. But how do you word it?

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