AN ANONYMOUS correspondent from Cheltenham recently played host to two foreign students. When they left they gave her 'a lovely bouquet' with a card, in which they recorded their appreciation of the 'very delicious' food. The card had a striking verse - 'It's at times like these that old friends hold tight to each other, and share their feelings' - and bore the striking legend, 'In Sympathy'. 'We all know sympathique is difficult to translate, but we didn't have the heart to tell them the difference]'

H M Pollock sends an extract from an extraordinary tourist guide to Madrid by Camilo Jose Cela, which seems to have lost (or gained) something in translation: 'So it's a case of pulling out of your sleeve, or the top of your head, somewhat casually and without pontification, an informal book about the most informal city of our geography, Madrid, which, in order to differ from its older brothers, aspires to be only a little book and perhaps to feel as giddy and frivolous as the sparrow.

'This book is written with the words which, jumping out of the bushes like a rabbit - serve each one of its corners, and wishes to be easy and bouncy reading, to be left or picked up at any moment without any reservations.

'Madridilenians are for Madrid what the favourite lover is to the street walker: the exploitation, the abuse, the showoffiness . . . Gosh]

'Pedro Ribera can sleep in peace in purgatory: the word of a man of Madrid and the fart of a friar are going with the wind.'

If you have a funny story or a hilariously disastrous travel experience to relate, send it to us. The best that we use each week will win one of the publisher John Murray's excellent Literary Companions (the series covers Paris, Venice, India, Egypt, Florence or London). Alternatively, you can select The Independent Good Holiday Guide or my new Family France guide. Your tale should be brief (no more than 200 words) and can be about anything to do with travel. Please write to: Frank Barrett ('Wish you weren't here . . . ?'), The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB, and say which book you would like if you are one of our winners.

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