Why I am already disappointed about this Christmas
Thank you for your letter. It is a little unusual to be receiving Christmas lists before at least November, yes. I am sure you are sincere in your wish to 'spread the load' for me by sending it four months early. And, yes, I do remember your list from last year. It was one of the more memorable ones. I am sorry I could not fulfil all your wishes and I hope that the 'Disappointment at Not Receiving George Clooney for Christmas' counselling course that you mention has proved beneficial.
Concerning this year's requests, I will deal with them one by one. May I say at this juncture that, should there be another counselling course available soon, it may be as well for you to book yourself a place.
1. I am afraid I am completely out of 'Make Your Middle-Aged Husband into a Greek God' kits. These did disappear rather rapidly last year, as you can imagine. In fact, they were not that successful and I am still expecting a summons to court as someone is sueing me for the fact that their husband turned into Triton, who, as you may know, is old and bearded. This was apparently worse than how her husband started out, so the lady concerned was rather disillusioned. He also insisted on eating dinner with a five metre long three-pronged fork, and I believe she found this irritating. In her words, 'It was a devil to wash up. We only have a small kitchen sink.'
2. The 'Lose Weight While Sitting Still' advice guide you mention is, I am sorry to say, now out of print and the writer, O U Wish, seems to have left the country. If the papers are to be believed, it appears that she was responsible for the fact that sales of big 'Bridget Jones' underwear went up by 300% while the craze lasted, as the size of ladies' bottoms expanded rapidly while they tried to follow the advice.
3. I wonder about the ethical issues surrounding your third request. Would it not be better to concentrate on making your novel exciting and engaging before trying methods such as these to attract the attention of a publisher? Also, I cannot really spare the number of elves it would take to insert electric shock devices between the pages of every other novel on the publisher's slush pile except your own. Your alternative suggestion - glueing together the pages of everyone else's debut novels - is perhaps less harmful, yes, but someone else asked for this last year, and my forty-nine elves came back literally as one man, having had an accident with the glue. It took a while to sort them out, and some of them still have to be careful when hugging.
I do hope you will not be discouraged from writing again. I would urge you, though, to try to make your requests more realistic. Have you thought of asking for a spaghetti server, a bottle of extremely cheap perfume, an ironing board cover or some very frilly knickers in the wrong size? I have recently carried out a survey of husbands to ask them what their wives love to receive at Christmas and these were among the items suggested, so I have bought in quite a few of each.