Making Penshaw Monument into a greenhouse, and other ideas by mischievous Sunderland letter writers
I was recently contacted by a former colleague and collaborator, regarding current fruit and vegetable shortages.
I say collaborator as, in the days when I had a proper job, we would often spend lunchtimes sending ludicrous letters to this very newspaper under a string of pseudonyms, including Donald Sinclair, Ted Goat, Gem Gemini, Ricardo Wolf and Cher.
There’s nothing quite like furiously disagreeing with yourself in print.
One letter from “Donald”, hard on the heels of his sensible suggestion that the paving slabs on Holmeside should light up when stood upon, as per Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean video, was that Penshaw Monument should be double glazed.
This, he intoned, would honour Sunderland’s glorious glass heritage as well as making us completely self-sufficient in tomatoes. My old friend messaged me last week saying that Donald had been completely vindicated.
All balderdash, of course and our letters probably irritated more people than not. However, they were read and responded to; sometimes even by other people
The point is that letters, even deliberately stupid ones, or those you completely disagree with, require a degree of discipline and thought.
Writers of proper letters also tend to give their real names, are courteous and don’t usually make abusive, unsubstantiated, unresearched, knee-jerk suppositions. That’s what social media is for.
Not only are letter writers deservedly taken more seriously, they don’t feel the need to signpost a joke with an appended “crying with laughter” emoji (how often do you actually “cry with laughter” at what passes for humour on social media?).
If you have something to say to the wider world, then it’s advisable to say it properly.
The letters page of this, or any newspaper is welcome alternative to the “Who cares?” mob on social media. Why would anyone bother to say “Who cares?” about a subject they claim not to care about; and why do they imagine we care that they don’t care?
Twenty-odd years on from Donald Sinclair’s puerile letter about turning Penshaw Monument into a greenhouse, it was remembered. So what of serious letters? How many texts, tweets, Facebook messages or whatever are worthy of recollection; for any reason?
More letters please.