Miles Kington: It's not easy, choosing a Christmas present for the Queen

She must have dozens of DVDs of 'The Royle Family' given to her by would-be witty friends and relations
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The Independent Online

Hello, children. Did you have a good Christmas Day? Did you get lots of presents? That's good! So now you can get down to writing your thank-you letters ...

No, don't stop reading Uncle Miles's column! Come back, you little wretches! Come back here at once ...!

That's better. Now listen to me carefully. Nobody likes writing thank you letters, not even the Queen, but it's worth doing, because it creates a very good impression on people who give you presents, and they are more likely to give you better presents next year.

Yes, it's self-interest and greed we're talking! Have I got your attention now? Good.

What?

Yes, I think the Queen gets presents like everyone else, and so I suppose she has to write thank-you letters.

No, I don't suppose she has someone who does it for her. I think if you gave the Queen a present, say if you were Princess Anne or someone, and you got a note back saying: "Her Majesty directs me to communicate her pleasure at receiving the gift from you, and asks me to express her gratitude ...", well, I don't think you'd think it was very maternal, do you?

So it is well worth making the effort to write your thank-you letters as soon as possible, if only to get them out of the way and not have your mother say to you in mid-February, "Did you do all your thank-you letters, darling?" and you saying, "Yes, I did, mother dear," you lying little toad.

I know it is horrible staring down at a blank sheet of paper and wondering what the hell to write, but if it is any comfort, lots of famous writers have to do this every day of the year, not just at Christmas, and they find it just as hard. I am sure that, come mid-February, quite a lot of them are asked by their girlfriends or wives or agents how that novel is coming along, and I am equally sure that they too say, "Fine, fine," and that they are lying little toads too.

What?

What kind of presents does the Queen get? Surely she has everything she needs already?

Yes, you would think so, wouldn't you.

After all, she has all those royal warrant-holders, all those people who are by appointment sausage-makers or broom-carvers or royal lexicographers to her Royal Highness, so she can lay her hands on a banger or a brush or a thesaurus any time she likes. Which means it must be really tricky thinking of an original gift for her. She must have dozens of DVDs of The Royle Family given to her by would-be witty friends and relations ...

Well, I suppose there is a royal lexicographer. After all, the language we speak is called "The Queen's English", and she must have some responsibility for it, so I guess there is a chap always at hand for her to consult. She, of all people, cannot afford to make a grammatical error. If she is writing a thank-you letter, for instance, and wants to say, "I am very mindful of the trouble you must have gone to," and can't remember if it's "mindful" or "mindfull", and isn't sure whether she should say, "the trouble to which you must have gone", there must be a chap she can ring up and ask.

He probably speaks Latin as well. You don't think she thought up "annus horribilis" all by herself, do you?

Anyway, this is all beside the point. Don't keep changing the subject, which is all about thank-you letters, which I am here to help you with.

No, I am not going to do them for you.

I would not write your thank-you letters for you, not even if you offered to pay me with that postal order which I am sure granny sent you.

You don't know what a postal order is?

Well, it's a rather old-fashioned way of sending money. What happens is, you go to a post office ...

What? What is a post office?

Oh, for heaven's sake, just shut up while I tell you how to write a thank you letter.

And now, all because of you, we've run out of space and I'll have to tell you how it's done tomorrow.

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