Miles Kington: Sometimes, 'thank you' is the hardest word

'At the age of eight, I refused to thank my grandmother for a catapult, when all I wanted was an anthology of verse'
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The Independent Online

Hello, children. Yesterday I promised that today I would tell you how to write thank-you letters. But I am going to go one better than that! I have asked lots of famous people to give their advice on the art of writing a good thank you letter, and today I am bringing you the best of those celebrity tips. Here we go, then!

Tony Blair

"Hello! Y'know, saying thank you is something I have thought a lot about in recent years. When one person does a lot for other people, he doesn't necessarily want those other 50 million people all to write and say thank you, but a little gratitude would not go amiss. Just a thought. Before I go. And I won't be. Going, I mean. Not till you say thanks. I can wait."

Clive James

"The nub of a pleasing thank-you letter is a well-turned phrase. Gratitude by itself is nothing, but well-expressed gratitude is everything. I flatter myself that if I have exhibited no other talent in life, I have at least adorned several thank-you letters with an arresting trope or two. I recall at the age of eight refusing to thank my grandmother for a catapult, when all I wanted was an anthology of verse. I was eventually forced to pen a note of thanks. I wrote, as I recall: 'Thank-you for the catapult, which was about as congruous to my needs as a pogo stick to a concert pianist..." I am afraid my grandmother took umbrage at this and failed ever to send me another gift, but I would never have wished back that juvenile simile."

Craig Brown

"The important thing is to decide in whose voice you are to express your thanks. As soon as you have decided on a style - whether it be that of Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, or one of the Smith twins, Ali and Zadie - you must settle down to a season of reading their works, until you have absorbed their style and it has become second nature to express yourself therein. Then spend several weeks practising composition in that tone of voice. After that, you are ready. And ignore false prophets who tell you that it is far easier to use your own tone of voice. The truth is that nothing could be harder."

Harold Pinter

"Thank you, America, for nothing. Thank you, President Bush, for nothing. Thank you only for bombing and shelling and torturing and killing and maiming..."

Tony Blair

"Just one other thing. When people get a peerage, do they ever write and say thank you? No, they don't. Just a thought."

Prince Charles

"If one were you, one would get one's speech-writer to lend a hand with the thank-you letters. January is a very slack time for speeches. All hands to the thank-you letters, I say. But on recycled paper, of course."

Polly Toynbee

"To expect single mothers, and immigrant families, and disadvantaged people, to be able to tackle their thank-you letter responsibilities entirely unaided is typical of New Labour's rigid, unthinking policies. Where are the care units to which they can turn? How can an untrained person honestly tackle the very real problems of writing a letter of thanks if their cultural background has not embraced the letter-writing tradition? Now is the time for the Government to set an example and..." (continued in The Guardian)

Germaine Greer

"Damn all thank you letters! And damn presents too! Send all attempted presents back, I say, not with a thank-you letter but with a 'Not Known At This Address', or 'Gone Away' or 'Recently Deceased' written on the package in suitably black ink."

Pam Ayres

"I write a note to say how much

Oi like his little prezzy.

He knows Oi'm lying through my teeth

But he never lets on, does he?"