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Start of an Urban Myth? 31, August 2006

Posted by babychaos in Humour, Play.

The Monckton Letter is a long standing joke among my dad’s mates so I was amazed to see a copy doing the rounds by e-mail which purported to be written by a little old lady in New Zealand to her local paper in about 1985. If that’s true, it’s gone a long way.

This version was sent to a worthy Rotarian in Pevensey or somewhere, in 1974. He and his fellow Rotarians had raised money to buy some “transistor radios” for the elderly. He thought it was so funny he photocopied it and gave it to one of his son’s teachers, a housemaster at a public school. The housemaster gave a copy to just about everyone he knew, including my dad, and my dad gave a transcript to me….. Dad’s faded purple photocopy is of the original article, spidery old lady’s handwriting, spellos and all. So while I doubt ours is the original it proves the idea was around as early as 1974.

Perhaps somebody at one of the old people’s homes on the receiving end of all these radios had a sly sense of humour and sent this as a joke. Perhaps Ada Milton was a joker, herself. Old people in homes are often mischevious, after all, my Grandad taught the budgie at the one he was in to say “bugger off”. It also said “sod off” and “who’s a silly little bugger then” which it would trot out as a riposte to “who’s a pretty boy then.” Luckily, it couldn’t say b, and like a bad ventriloquist it said “gugger” instead. Mmmm. So, getting back to the point, we know this letter is at least 40 years old. If anyone has information about earlier occurrances I would be intrigued to hear it.


The Monckton Letter

The Guest House

10th September 1974

Dear Mr Monckton

Will you please thank your society how grateful I am for the wireless.

I am 81 years old and living here I share a room with another lady, Mrs Jenkins, who has her own radio to listen to but she doesn’t let me listen and turns it off when I come into the room.

Now through your kindness I can enjoy the company which it brings.

I am really on my own but my son and daughter are very good to me. They come to see me and take me out to tea once a month and that’s nice – Now your radio makes me very happy. I am an Old Age Pensioner and I think it is very kind of you to remember people like me. I am getting very blind and it is wonderful, at my age, to think people help the old ones.

Mrs Jenkins’ wireless has gone wrong and it isn’t working and she has asked if she can listen to mine so I told her to fuck off!

Thank you once again.

Ada Milton


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