Thoroughly modern etiquette from one-who-knows-where-you-are

Related Topics
I SOMETIMES get letters from readers who are worried about modern etiquette, chiefly because they are not sure how to address people in the public eye. The old-style books on forms of address are all right when you're writing to a duke or duchess, but they're not much help on how to start off a letter to more modern people such as the Director of a Dome, a recently imprisoned Catholic priest or the head of the Booker Prize judging panel.

From time to time, I hope to bring an update on these forms of address, and today I am going to make a start with those ones that seem to give readers the most concern.

To a bishop

Begin your letter:

Dear Sir/Madam,

End your letter:

Yours in doubt and anguish


The Bishop of X

c/o Thought for the Day, Today, BBC Radio, etc.

To the director of the Millennium Dome

Begin your letter:

To whom it may concern

End your letter:

from someone who will be elsewhere at the time


The Director

The Building Site


To a future mayor of London

Begin your letter:

Dear Esteemed Dispenser of Public Money

End your letter:

Therefore, if you do become mayor, I think we can do business together because of all the foregoing reasons. I enclose pounds 20,000 in used fivers. Good luck, squire. Yours anonymously


The Old Archerage


To Salman Rushdie

Begin your letter:

Dear One-who-knows-who-he-is

End your letter:

From One-who-knows-where-you-are-but-would-never-say


c/o P.C. Robinson

Celebrity Incognito Interview Unit

BBC etc etc

To a naval officer who is being court-martialled for having an affair with a Wren

Begin your letter:

Dear Captain (at the time of going to press)

End your letter:

Therefore we at the Admiralty would like to say that, whatever the outcome of this particular case, we are very proud of you for having helped to dispel the image of the Navy as full of poofters, and for bringing back a bit of our old heterosexual pride. Your old boss


The Old Court Martial House


To the leader of a political party in Northern Ireland

Begin your letter:

Dear Sir ( if still alive ), May I start by saying that nothing in this letter should be taken as a firm offer by HM Government and that any explosives inserted in the envelope were placed there after the letter was sealed by me?

End your letter:

Well, I hope nothing serious has happened to you since you started reading this letter...


Peace Process House


Northern Ireland

To the Queen, from an Army Major, asking for some letters to be returned

Begin your letter:

Your Majesty, At a time when some very close love letters of your ex-daughter-in- law...

End your letter:

These and many other details about the Royal Family which she mentions in the letters, should never, you must agree, see the light of the day. To prevent this, just return the letters or I must take matters into my own hands.

Your loyal servant


Buckingham Palace

(Please Forward If At Another Palace)

To the Head of the Royal Opera House

Begin your letter:

Is there anyone there?

End your letter:

But soft! Here comes the postman! Postman, take this missive and run, run, run till it has reached its destiny!


A large white house,

Somewhere in West London.

Enter a postman, bearing a letter.

He sings.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower