off duty without a friend, a hobby to console me,
or the price of a cinema ticket, what can I do?
I enter a little shop down the road, furtively,
and ask the woman for my favourite brand.
I sneak back to my room and lock the door
against everyone. Then out comes the teaspoon
I filched from the dining room. I indulge in an orgy
of onions, gherkins, piccalilli, mustard and spice.
Yes, I finish the whole jar. Then I wash my hands,
clean my teeth, and can face the world. Maybe
it’s because pickles aren’t provided in our meals.
Or maybe my nature requires still more acid.
Mother says the vinegar will dry up my blood
and I’ll be preserved. But, oh, what a glorious end.
(From a letter to an old edition of Woman magazine. Submitted by Angela Readman)