From the Manager
Tesco Express, Ty Gwyn Avenue
Thank you for your letter of 31st August. I regret that as we are a relatively small store we do not have the space for a Christmas Grotto along the lines that you suggest, and so I must decline your kind offer to act as Mother Christmas in December.
Thank you for your complimentary remarks about our store, and I hope that you will continue to shop with us.
Yours sincerely, J. S. Dobbs (Manager)
Thank you for your further letter of September 5th . As I said last week, we are not a large store and so we would struggle to find space for a Witches’ Coven along the lines you suggest. I’m afraid it would not be feasible to replace the entire World Food Ready Meals aisle for the last fortnight of October as you recommend, as they are a very popular product.
Therefore we will not be able to employ you as an In-store Witch at Halloween.
However, it was an ingenious suggestion, and I am glad to see that you are a regular shopper with us.
Yours sincerely, J. S. Dobbs (Manager)
Thank you for your further letter of September 10th. No I must confess that I had not heard the rumour that pumpkins are likely to be much smaller this year. This may well be a late silly-season scare story, and to be perfectly frank I find it hard to believe. I must assure you that all our pumpkins are of the highest quality and locally sourced, so we will not be needing to avail ourselves of your kind offer to supply us with extra large ones…
I must protest in the strongest possible terms at your further letter of September 16th. I assure you that I was NOT aware that your partner was of mixed Ghanaian and Jewish extraction, and I strongly refute the implication that if I had known this, it would have influenced my decision as to whether to employ you as a Witch in our store, or indeed to purchase giant pumpkins from your allotment. Such decisions are generally left to me as Manager, and I can assure you they are NEVER affected by considerations of race; my wife is in fact Chinese, as it happens.
As I explained, we simply do not have the room for a grotto of any sort, nor do I feel that it would add to our appeal as a family convenience store. Some of the illustrations you sent would I feel be downright terrifying to small children. My own daughter is just four, and when I showed your picture to her, she burst into tears and declared that she would not be coming to Daddy’s work in future…
As I thought I had made clear in my letter last week, I have absolutely no prejudice against any race, let alone the Jews or Black people in general, nor indeed any other race. I deeply resent your accusation and I find it inexplicable that you have resorted to a solicitor to deal with this matter. Since we have never agreed to employ you, there cannot possibly be any question of unfair dismissal and you have no rights under employment legislation. I’m sure that your solicitor will advise you of this….
I have been informed by our national Head Office that I should not engage further in correspondence with you, since you have placed my letters in the hands of your solicitor.
I would however just like to add that when you referred to your partner, I had absolutely no idea that yours is a civil partnership and that she is in fact a woman. You are quite wrong in inferring that I must have read about your ceremony in the South Wales Echo. I assure you that those articles passed me by. My work as Manager here is extremely stressful and takes up pretty well every waking moment of my life - my wife keeps a photo of me in her purse to remind her what I look like – and I simply do not have time to read idle tittle-tattle in the newspapers.
I must assure you that I am in no way prejudiced against same-sex partnerships.
As I thought I had informed you on October 1st, our Chief Executive in Welwyn Garden City has personally intervened and forbidden me from corresponding with you. Indeed my GP has warned me that to continue to do so could seriously harm my health.
However, I would just like to object in the strongest possible terms to the assortment of parcels that you have been bombarding my store with this week. I thought I had made it clear that we do not require any large pumpkins as we have a perfectly adequate supply from our loyal local producers. Would you kindly arrange to have your goods removed as they are taking up nearly all the space in our store room, please? THIS IS A MATTER OF URGENCY.
Furthermore, we do not have any use for the masks and other stuff – I am tempted to use the word ‘rubbish’ – that you have sent us. We did not ask for any of this. I appreciate that you and your partner made all the items by hand, using recycled materials and without taking up scarce energy resources or harming the environment in any way; that is of course admirable, but we cannot accept your items as we have our own Halloween supplies which are due to arrive this Thursday. You must therefore arrange to have your parcels collected as soon as possible.
Your appearance in my store yesterday was completely unacceptable.
The noise of a dozen small children recruited from Ton-yr-Ywen primary school singing, or perhaps I should say shouting, songs involving what appeared to be some sort of devil worship was shocking in the extreme. Mrs.Timms, who is a very regular customer of ours, had to be taken to Casualty after two of them knocked her stick away when she refused their demand of ‘trick or treat’. I understand this morning that although doctors kept her in overnight as a precaution, she is expected to make a good recovery and will not after all need surgery; you will no doubt be glad to learn this.
You and your partner were dressed in the most grotesque costumes, as you must be well aware. I hardly feel that long fangs were appropriate when thrust into the faces of several of our more elderly customers who happen to have false teeth.
It was quite unacceptable of you to strip bare the whole aisle devoted to our ready-made sandwiches and install your own products there. As I tried to protest at the time, we do not wish to market your toffee apples, wholesome though you claim them to be, nor indeed are we able to sell products containing snails or parts of toads.
When the police cleared the store, I fear that we lost a significant number of long-standing and valued customers, many of whom were heard to mutter as they left that they were off to Sainsbury’s. I hold you personally responsible for this outcome.
I should respectfully like to inform you that I shall not be answering your letters in future, should you wish to communicate further, as I have been placed on indefinite sick leave. My deputy Mr.T.Roberts will take over as Acting Manager until a replacement can be appointed.
Yours very sincerely, James St.John Dobbs