I received a Christmas card this morning. Let me describe it to you. It is roughly A5 in size and has on its cover a photograph of a juvenile polar bear and a snow white kitten sitting together on an elderly donkey’s back. Did I mention that all three are wearing Father Christmas hats that are just slightly too big for them? And do I need to mention that, grizzled cynic though I am, the general effect teeters on the edge of super-sweetness, without quite driving me to suicide. That’s it: I confess the cuteness of the card and you may duly shoot me for doing so.
Inside the card, I find the following note:
Georgy, you sad-excuse-for-a-critic,
How are things down Dejection Lane? Another year has flung its coat over the banister of time, and yet I see that the decayed, withered, skeletal corpse of your criticism lives on. Just. I perused your online journal only last week (were it not for the internet, that windy playground of unnecessary thoughts, your voice would have been kindly silenced months ago) and encountered the usual lineup of typing errors, grammatical faux pas and constant misconceptions of the Way Things Are. Your rudderless old boat of a blog informs us that you have been trying to sweep these cobwebs clean – and yet all I can see around me are the dusty old homes of long-deceased spiders. But then you have long been drifting down a dirty river, and I would be a fool to think that you could still turn your vessel around. You or your wife, that is (are you still forcing her to act as your live-in, no-fee translator? You are a beast, my man, a beast). Drift on, Georgy, drift on. I look forward to your forthcoming appointment with the sluice-gates of critical dissolution!
Here follows a gap – and then a quite illegible squiggle, which I suppose to be the signature of whichever generous soul sent this card to me. Being unable to thank him or her personally, it is to be hoped that this message gets through to them – and that they may know I am profoundly grateful to have received their sentiments, despite the paucity of truth contained therein.