For my 800th post on Washed and Ready to Eat, I return to one of my favourite featured books - Ronald Pelham's How shall I word it? Published in 1948, it provides templated letters designed to help the reader respond to any conceivable situation. Whether you're a butler applying 'for situation', a bridesmaid writing a thank you letter to a bridegroom or a store selling salvage stock after a fire, Mr Pelham knows exactly what you ought to say.
Imagine this scenario. You have received a selection of brochures from scholastic agents providing information about boarding schools. From your cottage in Somerley, you write to the educational establishment of your choice, Greyline School in Heacham.
Your brochure has been sent to me by Messrs. ________________ & _____________, and I am very interested in the school for my daughter, aged nine. Her education so far has been acquired at a private school, but my wife and I feel that the time has now come for her to be taken in hand seriously for her future educational development.
Your brochure does not include a list of clothes that she will need or the cost, nor does it say whether there is a resident qualified nurse.
My wife and I would like to come down and see the school at some convenient week-end, and if you suggest a date we will let you know whether it is a convenient one for us. In your reply would you please state whether a vacancy exists after the summer holidays?
A. G. Taggart
No, thanking you, Mr Pelham. Once again, you've helped us out of a tricky situation and have paid great attention to detail. It's a little odd that you know about the potential absence of the resident qualified nurse, but can't remember the names of the scholastic agents who sent you the brochures. All the same, we're very grateful for your advice.
Next time on How should I word it?... a shirt and white tablecloth that haven't come back from the laundry.