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Who's there?

Following yesterday morning's visit to M&S, a shop I've complained about before at Christmas, I have decided to write a letter of complaint about one of their products.

Product Manager
Marks and Spencer

Dear Sir,

I write to complain most strongly about one of the Marks and Spencer products, clearly intended to be sold as a possible Christmas gift.

The item in question is a book with a title along the lines of The World's Greatest Knock Knock Jokes. I have two concerns about this book. Firstly, I am concerned that some well-meaning individuals might go out and buy this item as a gift for a loved one. Secondly, I am concerned that someone has actually set out to produce such dross as is displayed on every page of your so-called book. 

Before I explain why the book is so offensively bad as to warrant this letter, I would like you to consider the effect that your merchandise will have on some people's Christmas celebrations. Imagine the child whose grandmother, or favourite aunt, has decided to buy him this joke book for Christmas. With the book's price tag of five pounds, it's unlikely that this child is going to get anything else from this doting relative. Imagine the look of disappointment on the child's face as he reads each and every page looking for a joke to tell his friends or assembled family, only to discover that there's not a single joke worthy of reading out loud. Desperately trying to contain his disappointment, he has to go and thank the giver of this so-called gift. That's his Christmas day ruined.

I ought to justify why I think this book's content is so bad. It can be summed up by the discussion I had with a senior citizen at M&S in Newcastle upon Tyne. We were browsing and she picked up the offending book. I told her that she shouldn't even open it.

"Why? Is it dirty?", she asked.
"No, worse than that," I replied, "it's not funny."

She opening it and read out loud:

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Carl Who?
Carl you see.

"Carl you see? What does that mean?", she asked me.
"I think it's supposed to be can't you see.", I attempted to explain.
"But it's not spelt like that... What about this one here." She read the next one.

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Buster Who?
Buster town please.

"What does this one mean?", she asked me.
"I think it's like asking for a bus to town."
"That's not funny."

It is not funny. Your book is full of a series of unfunny attempted puns that do not work. It can be summed up by one of its own items:

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Gervase Who?
Gervaseting my time.

Indeed, it is a waste of time. I shall probably have regrets for the rest of my life that I wasted so much of my time attempting to find anything of any humour in this publication. I have a pretty good sense of humour, with a low threshold for amusement; this book completely failed to do anything but infuriate me. I wouldn't wipe my arse with it!

The Newcastle store had about three copies of this joke book on display. They were well-thumbed, and dog-eared. Clearly a lot of people had had a sneak preview and returned the books to the display unbought. Clearly a lot of Newcastle shoppers are quite discerning. However, I doubt you'd only send three books to a store, so it seems that many shoppers have paid their five pounds and have possession of the items, unwittingly holding the disappointment time-bomb that your company decided to sell.

I beg that you remove these items from sale now, before they do any real damage. Perhaps you could also explain what on earth you were thinking of when you decided to sell them in the first place.

Yours faithfully,

Ashley Frieze

04 November 2001
Ashley Frieze