During lockdown we invited you to Break the rhythm of your confinement and engage your imagination, find an outlet for your frustrations, or simply try a new pass-time, sharing your ‘letters from confinement’.
Now from our panel of literary elites, and votes from the public we are pleased to announce our winners!
You can read our winning letter and the letter from our runner up below, and if you didn’t get a chance to read them all in our public vote, you can enjoy the letters from our finalists too.
M/s H. Huntsman & Sons,
126, New Bond Street,
I am writing to inquire after a suit I had commissioned the Friday before last at your esteemed establishment. I was attended to by a Mr. Mason who helped me select the cloth and subsequently ushered me towards one Mr. Hammick to have my measurements taken. You, or certainly Mr. Mason, will remember the cloth – made from a fine Super 150’s wool – a charcoal grey cloth in a subtle herringbone weave. “Freshly procured from the finest Mill in the land up in Huddersfield,” he had assured me. Now, I fully understand that the very next day following my visit the news broke out that this dreadful influenza, this ghastly Spanish Flu, as the papers are calling it, has now infiltrated the British Isles. Scores of soldiers returning from the trenches in northern France brought it with them, they say. Trust the French to send us so unpleasant a gift.
Yet I wondered, despite all this, if I may drop by next Thursday afternoon for my first fitting? You see, a gentleman such as myself cannot be made to remain indoors for so prolonged a spell. Confinement, by its very nature, is ungentlemanly. Moreover, despite being blessed with a respectable repertoire of bespoke suits which I wear daily as I embark on that treacherous journey downstairs from my bedroom to my study, I find there is a certain something missing from my collection; a pièce de résistance, if you will. Perhaps this work of Mr. Hammick’s renowned craftsmanship will serve me well to this end. “You’ve finally lost your marbles,” the lady of the house reproached me, when I informed her of my intentions at breakfast. “This is no common cold we’re dealing with – even the Prime Minister was not spared the wrath of this pandemic!” Poor soul, bless her, my dear wife, for although she is a God-fearing woman, even she knows deep down that her endless cups of tea can go only so far towards curing me of this malaise; for a gentleman’s heart yearns for something much stronger.
As for Mr. Lloyd George, the poor sod has been shaking so many greasy liberal hands these past few months it is no wonder he contracted the disease. Surely the coalition government is using this influenza, La Grippe as they call it across the channel, as an excuse to keep the general public confined to their houses and out of their way whilst a herculean post-war clean-up and rebuilding operation is undertaken across the country. One solitary gentleman journeying sartorially a mere two and a half miles will cause no inconvenience whatsoever to their efforts. I am quietly confident that were I to even exhibit the symptoms – a fever, a sore throat, a headache and a loss of appetite (this last symptom quite impossible in my case) – there is no ailment for which my good friend Robert Cavendish of No. 23 Harley Street cannot prescribe a cure. His cures tend to range from a shot of warm whiskey (“the best painkiller known to man”) to a glass of ginger ale, a spot of quinine and some sliced onions scattered around the house. A true master of his trade.
Therefore, my dear sir, I request you to kindly confirm my appointment. I will arrive at my usual hour following some business I must attend at Sotheby’s where I will have luncheon. With you, as I did on my previous visit, I will take tea.
Nathanial H. Darwin
Thank you for your kind note, though I’m afraid you’re a little late. The bank rang about some ‘suspicious activity’ within seconds of your sixth online purchase – it is, perhaps, far kinder to support the Italian economy indirectly with donations to hospitals and healthcare personnel than it is to fritter away my ex-savings on, what seems to be, cashmere furniture. I urge you to explore other, less financially ruinous means of beating back the ennui of the great indoors. I, for one, have found renewed literary inspiration – in the daily scatological of all places! I should hope this amuses you appropriately:
Ode to the Toilet
To perch upon a toilet bowl,
One dirty shiny china pan,
That sits beneath two rosy cheeks,
Is still a joy to all of man.
When sat upon the porcelain throne,
The peasant is himself a king,
The prince becomes of lowly birth,
All bound as one by China ring.
An’ no one else for company,
With man alone in his own seat,
To guess, to think, to contemplate,
Or simply look at both his feet.
There is, alas, a price to pay,
When man commits himself to sit,
To while away his golden years,
One ounce of gold, its worth in shit.
The price is right, the price is fair,
A rack of lamb or table scrap,
Man can’t but give just as he gets,
What gold goes in will out as crap.
The toilet is a wondrous thing,
Our charity of daily bread,
Is honestly, without deceit,
Given with grace until we’re dead.
Do feel free to be as liberal with your thoughts as you were with my mum. In spite of all of her cognitive decline, she has yet to forget the time you so visibly objected to her abduction of Lucretia and the displeasure she faced from you subsequently, having left us with the bill from the canine behaviorist. The ‘leaden-footed gorgon’ you were so very fond of when we were still married, who, despite constant reminders, remains none the wiser of our little milestone, is well enough despite your lack of concern.
With this third week of wretched confinement sweatily heaving itself upon us, all that was ready to drink has already been drunk. I fear soon we shall have to lay siege to the good stuff, though I suspect the ‘82 Chateau Latour will put up a damn good fight – all six litres of it.
Trust you are twice as well, half as bored, and a damn sight less drunk. Stay safe and keep well.
All the best to you and yours,