Nice day for a white wedding. Allegedly.
Said envelope had been delivered from the post room on Tuesday, with the result - given that I worked at home on Tuesday - that speculation amongst my colleagues had risen to fever pitch by the time I hobbled in on Wednesday morning.
As a team, we were united in our admiration of the hardly-intimidating-at-all Colonel Khadafy postage stamp. It lent, we felt, a certain air of carnival to the correspondence.
Unable to fend my colleagues off with a stick after putting my briefcase down and turning my computer on, I opened the letter.
Imagine, if you will, the mixture of emotions engendered in my capacious bosom by the following (very slightly edited) transcript of what the envelope contained:-
"My Dear Editor,
I am more than happy to come across your picture, name and address in the ******** Magazine and I will like to use this as an opportunity to write you this letter.
Before then let me introduce myself to you. My name is NotYetABritishCitizen a 40 years old Ghanaian teacher presently residing in Tripoli. I work with your embassy (UK embassy – Tripoli).
In fact Editor I just develop interest in you from your picture and I wish to spend the rest of my life with you if you would not mind.
I am tall, humble, honest and hansome Christian; and I promise to handle you like egg when we become together. I will take good care of you and your wish will be my command therefore think about it and just give me the chance and the fact will be manifested.
I wish I have got your telephone no. I would have cal you right now. However, this is my telephone no **** *** *** *** *** you can call me any time you like and this is my e-mail address: URgr8@anISP.com. I prefer we communicate via email since it will be quicker and cheaper way.
Please in your reply to me, tell me more about yourself and send me your picture and ask me anything you will like to know about me, Libya and my own country Ghana as we still have to know each other better.
Bye for now Editor looking forward to hearing from you as soon as possible, Your husband to be with lots of love, NotYetABritishCitizen xxx. "
I have, you will probably be relieved to hear, not the slightest intention of so much as corresponding with this charming gentleman, let alone spending the rest of my life with him. However, if there is one thing a blog comes in useful for, it is the cathartic process of drafting a response which will never be sent.
Highlights of my hypothetical reply might therefore include:-
My address was most definitely not included in the magazine article to which you refer. You may consider your attempts to track down further information on my whereabouts from my employer's website to be romantic: I consider such behaviour tantamount to stalking.
I am aware of the photograph of which you speak and, quite honestly, do not believe for a moment that it alone could render anyone weak with desire. Frankly, you would have stood a better chance of convincing me of your immediate and undying admiration if you had attributed it to what I had said in the interview. (It is too late now to change tack, by the way.)
It may surprise you to learn that I mind your intention to spend the rest of your life with me a great deal. I consider it presumptuous of you in the extreme to attempt to foist yourself on me in perpetuity in this way. Whatever happened to meeting for a coffee?
When you promise to "handle me like egg", do you mean that you will crack my skull against the edge of a frying pan? Enquiring minds need to know...
I cannot for the life of me imagine what gave you the impression that I would be attracted by the prospect of my wish being your command. I can think of nothing worse than being humbly obeyed in all things. If I wanted a sycophant, I would get a dog.
You are sadly mistaken in your evident assumption that my being an MBE (thank you for using my full title on the envelope, by the way) is indicative of my being part of the British aristocracy, with the house, grounds and influence with HRH to match. Whilst I appreciate that my lifestyle would probably appear luxurious by Ghanaian standards, I am far from wealthy.
Even had I been tempted by the earlier paragraphs of your letter (and, should you be considering attempting this again with any other random British women, might I suggest something a little more classy than a page of lined A4 paper ripped from a pad?), I consider the fact that you have signed yourself off as my "husband to be" to be hugely offensive.
Beauty and youth, I may not have. But that is no indicator that I am so desperate to be married that I would accept a proposal from a complete stranger. You insult both my intelligence and my integrity. Kindly desist from any further importunings of this nature. If you do not, I can assure you that you will find the tone what Mr Larkin will have to say to you very considerably less palatable than the tone of this letter.