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The Independent Culture

Middle-class problems: Cards

It began when I got engaged; an occasion of significance, but only really for me and, perhaps, my betrothed. Then the cards began to arrive. With each new addition to the mantelpiece, with its heartfelt message of joy, I was plunged into a deepening despair.

Because I have never sent an engagement card. I’ve seen them in shops, but thought they were like teddy bears and heart-shaped balloons; fun, but not something you take to the till.

My consternation grew when, after a dinner party, a friend sent me a thank-you letter on personalised stationery. The card was so rich and creamy that I could have served it alongside the petits fours. My gratitude in such situations has only ever extended as far as a text message. I thought I’d been pushing the boat out by ending with a smiley face.

So the other day, I waddled home after a long lunch and penned a lavish message of thanks. I may even have included a poem. Then I popped it in the post, and settled back to congratulate myself, and digest.

The email arrived the next morning. “Thanks for the card, but you really shouldn’t have bothered.”

What now? Do I start a list of “friends to be carded” and “friends never to card”? Or simply cease all interaction with the outside world?

I’m not saying that there should be rules about this kind of thing… Actually, I am. That is exactly what I am saying. Stringent rules, with hideous punishments for those who don’t comply. It would make life an awful lot easier.