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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison


In recent years I had found it increasingly difficult to locate appropriate greeting cards for special occasions. Feelings of nausea induced by the over-sentimental wording of many cards had made selection difficult. Indeed, projectile vomiting by many potential customers had made the browsing experience particularly unpleasant and had finally led to the prohibition of greeting card sale in shops that also sold food products.

Even more problematic, however, had been the question of identifying a card which both accurately described my relationship to the recipient and expressed the nuances of the message I wished to convey.

The solution occurred to me as I combed the shopping mall for a card to send to my second cousin twice removed on my father’s side. For him, as an Englishman, to be awarded thirteenth place in the ‘All Australia Crocodile Wrestling Championships’, was a feat greatly deserving of recognition. I was desperately disappointed, therefore, to find that the required wording did not appear on a single greeting missive. I resolved to start a business to manufacture honest and accurate greeting cards for the twenty-first century.

This venture has been a great commercial success. It has also, however, produced a surprising and interesting by-product in providing a sociological snap-shot of contemporary Britain. ‘Congratulations to my next door neighbour’s wife in keeping secret the paternity of your new baby.’ has proved, for example, to be a best seller.

‘Thank You’ cards for children to give to their teachers at the end of the school term remain popular, although the addition to that range of ‘Thanks to my school gate drug dealer for some great shit!’ has been enthusiastically received. The desire of our young people to send such positive messages to others has shown them in a benign and, hitherto, unrecognised light. ‘Condolences on my theft of your car.’ has been particularly heartening in that respect, as have ‘Best wishes on the reconstruction of your home after my arson attack.’ and ‘Deepest regrets on the death of your relative in a knife attack in the city centre at closing time - even if he did look at me in a funny way.’

The replacement of redundancy notices with ‘Good luck in your future career.’ cards has undoubtedly improved employer/employee relationships.

Perhaps even more surprising has been the way that official institutions have embraced the new card culture. ‘Apologies from the Inland Revenue for plunging you into poverty this Christmas.’ has been well received by pensioners. ‘Sorry about your fine for that motoring offence and our lack of effort to detect serious crime.’ has illustrated a disarming honesty on the part of the police that has warmed the hearts of the public. Finally, ‘Sorry I lied!’ cards ordered by MPs to send to their constituents have generated our largest sales - the biggest order having, of course, been placed by Downing Street.

Why don’t you send an honest and accurate greeting card, today?