Some posts write themselves. And some posts are practically written by others. This is such a post.
I received the following e-mail yesterday, in response to the comment thread below my previous post. (I hope the contributors to that discussion – I’m one of them! – will receive this with the good humour intended!)
The comment Pieman has made on your last post on celibacy was fantastic. A fitting end to a com-box debate that was going nowhere.
(At this point, I might interrupt and reply to the Pieman’s enquiries. I’m not a big fan of fried fruit Simon, so I’ll pass on the frittata. But it would by privilege to make you a hot chocolate on my beloved Miss Silvia. I’m quietly confident it will be every bit as good as anything you get at the Westpac Centre!)
[The Pieman’s intervention] reminds me of a story Chesterton tells of his sister-in-law (also a journalist). H.G. Wells had written an article on racial segregation in the deep south.
A man from Bexley wrote a letter to the editor stressing that inter-racial marriages would be the end of society and no integration could be possible. He signed his letter ‘White Man.’ Wells replied to ‘The White Man of Bexley’ that he was not generally inclined to marry everyone and anyone he met on the street, and that within the circles he frequented “the ettiquette was calmer.”
This correspondence sparked off one letter signed by ‘Black Man,’ and another from an Asian noting that discrimination isn’t limited to Africans alone, signed ‘Brown Man.’
The exchange of views was capped off by a letter calling for everyone to work hand in hand for the common brotherhood of humanity, signed ‘Mauve Man with Green Spots.’ Chesterton attributed this to his sister-in-law.
In the case of Simon the Pieman, the green spots might be replaced with black and white stripes!