I am in Exeter, working with a group of delightful women who are training to be WI Craft Judges. One of their tasks is to judge a "Village Show", including the confirmation of all the arrangements. Of course, they can't just turn up at the show but have to invited...and who invites them but the legendary President of Lower Puddle WI, Mrs Ophelia B Joyful. Generations of WI judges have corresponded with Mrs O B Joyful, the earlier ones responding Dear Madam and the later ones Dear Ophelia. How times change, eh?
Anyway, here we are, the night before the show and no letters have been sent. Not only that but there's no one else here to write them but me, minus a computer. But I have a pen and I can write! I decided that Mrs O B Joyful wouldn't send a letter written on any old paper, so on my way back to the hotel I stopped off in WHSmith to buy some notepaper and envelopes.
Hah! Could I find it? What do you think?
I stopped a member of staff and asked for writing paper and envelopes - explaining that I wanted the kind you write a letter on, not take notes.
"Oh, do you want the lined stuff? It's over there". She pointed to the "student" section.
"No," I replied, "I want letter paper, not the kind you take notes on"
"Yes, it's over there, it's in books you can tear a sheet out"
Slowly, it dawned on me that this young woman didn't know what Basildon Bond was. That the concept of buying a pad of special paper and matching envelopes was totally alien to her. I thanked her and found an older colleague to ask, who pointed in the opposite direction. There on the end of a display was the full range of writing pads and envelopes. I made my selection and went to pay.
The youngster had the last laugh though. I discarded the lined guide page and began to write the first letter. I continued onto a second page and forged Ophelia Joyful's signature before carefully tearing the two sheets from the pad. But it wouldn't tear off neatly. Muttering something about Basildon Bond not being what it used to be, I looked more closely.
I had written the first page on the blotting paper.
Hands up anyone who needs an explanation of what that was used for?