In 1986 a friend asked her class of six-year-olds to write letters to Father Christmas. Most of the class asked for a My Little Pony or a Transformer, but one boy just wrote a column of seven-digit numbers. It seems he had memorised the Argos catalogue numbers for the items he wanted and thought it would save Father Christmas some time (The Argos catalogue: why Britain’s love affair with The Book of Dreams had to end, 6 August).
• The idiotic “eat out to help out” scheme (Editorial, 5 August) has a further shortcoming. Restaurants that automatically add service to the bill calculate this after subtracting the government discount. Some of the worst-paid workers are being robbed of up to half of their tips.
Hastings, East Sussex
• When I was in the army, my copy of the Guardian was delivered to the guardroom – and committed to a cell for collection (Letters, 5 August).
• “Velveteen breeches” (Letters, 4 August) is a marvellous piece of phrase-making precisely because it doesn’t have a “meaning” that one can look up, and yet its significance is immediately apparent.
• Information on a bottle of French wine: “This wine is as smooth as the velveteen pantaloons of the Christ child.” Apparently this is a common phrase in France.
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