Many Unhappy Returns

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dear Maud,

A wise man once said, ‘A house has many windows but only one door.’

Thus was his reputation ruined!

I jest, Maud, for our sage right: it is easier to leave than come back.

Indeed, in penning this epistle, I have made many unhappy returns; these I have spared you – until now, that is.

Many things return, not all of them nice. Inflammation, insults and infancy – they all come back to haunt their hapless host. Enter the epistolist, he who lay down his frivolous quill because, as it seemed to him then, two birds in the bush were worth one in the hand.

You get the picture, even if it is a little smudged.

To sidestep a problem is to solve it, Maud, so let us clasp claws and skirt the issue.

For it is all a matter of punctuation, anyway.

What if, say, my last letter had ended, not with a single emphatic full stop (as, alack, it did), but rather with a trailing triplet of dots, those tiptoe-prints which, when seen on the page, whisper of short unseen absences, of ‘words left out and merely implied’.

Assuredly, I would not be in this mess!

Life, too, has its ellipses.

Of course, the key to the In Door is handy; it hangs there, on the keyboard, over a shift.

At the twitch of a pinkie I, Pilcrow, am back!

Yours etc.

next