Mrs Womble Unseated

It's been a while since Mrs Womble wrote to us and we were beginning to fear that her powers of penmanship were on the decline when this turned up in our mailbox. It appears that she has recently bought some furniture with which she is not entirely satisfied.

Dear Hartlepool Discount Furniture Bazaar,

I hope this letter finds you well. I have very little doubt that you must be feeling considerably better than I am at the moment, since I recently found myself unexpectedly coming into contact with my dining room floor in quite a sudden, painful and highly undignified manner. What occasioned this misfortune was not, as you might expect, a careless stumble, a clumsy trip or even a freak gust of wind. The direct cause of my accident was a dining room chair, one of a set which I purchased from your store last month. To be brief, what happened was that as I sat down to eat my evening meal I slipped straight off the leather-effect, easy-clean padded seat and terminated my unexpected journey in a crumpled heap beneath the table.

Now, this is not funny. I admit that my nephew, who had joined us for dinner, appeared to find the whole thing riotously droll and laughed so hard that gravy shot out of his nose. But then my nephew has what can best be described as an 'unsophisticated' sense of humour and is easily amused by the most mundane circumstances. Just the other day, for instance, I discovered him guffawing with the most extraordinary gusto at a cat perched on my neighbour's wall. The cat, as far as I could tell, wasn't inherently entertaining and didn't seem to be engaged in any 'comic business' of any kind, but my nephew found the mere existence of the animal absolutely hilarious, much to the bemusement of both myself and the poor creature in question.

But this is by the by. As I sat there beneath the table, listening to the muffled, gurgling laughter from above, my most immediate and profound sensation was one of shock, mingled with blistering indignation. After all, I bought the chair in good faith on the understanding that it would save me from having to sit on the floor; and yet there I was, sitting on the floor. I don't profess to be much of an expert in furniture, but I'm reasonably confident that the sole function of any chair is to provide a comfortable spacer between my rear end and the ground. Clearly, the item I bought from you failed in this small but crucial respect.

No doubt you will immediately leap to the conclusion that I was using the chair incorrectly in some way. Let me tell you, although I'm not inclined to divulge my age, you should know that I am a woman of experience and I have successfully sat on many chairs in the past. I'm far too polite to reveal how many, of course, but let's just say that I'm no stranger to a leather recliner or an upholstered stool, and the number of times I have fallen off one can be easily counted on the fingers of one hand.

And might I also pre-empt your inevitable glib response that on this occasion I was somehow intoxicated. I should point out that, whilst I do occasionally enjoy a small aperitif, it is widely known that I am a moderate drinker and rarely inclined to partake of strong spirits to such a degree that I am no longer able to reliably use furniture without doing myself an injury.

Since the chair was so obviously faulty, I called at your showroom earlier today to return the item, expecting to be offered a full refund plus whatever reparation you deemed was appropriate to compensate me for my harrowing ordeal. I was accompanied by my nephew who, as the principle witness, was able to give a full account of this horrific incident, albeit punctuated freely with barely suppressed giggles and splutters.

The assistant who served us - a young gentleman with a name tag that conferred on him the unlikely rank of deputy manager - struggled pathetically to understand the situation and asked that I repeat myself several times before he ultimately gave up and concluded that I was 'having him on'. Naturally I insisted that I be taken seriously and pointed out some of the consequences that could flow from wilfully supplying dangerously unstable furniture. What if -I said to him - what if I had slipped off that chair and fallen onto a small child?

He, of course, had no answer and yet still he denied that the furniture was at fault. To demonstrate this he sat on the chair himself, but I could clearly see that he was gripping the sides and that without such a precaution he would surely have accelerated groundwards in a heartbeat. Nevertheless, on the strength of this demonstration he declared the chair sound and suggested that perhaps it was my bottom that was at fault? At this point it was clear that further dialogue was futile so I promptly left the shop, returning only briefly to collect my nephew who, for reasons I can barely begin to speculate upon, was laughing at a sideboard.

This evening I have eaten my dinner from a crouching position. The problem chair is safely stowed away in the garage, where it will remain until we can both agree to satisfactorily conclude this matter to my advantage. I look forward to your cringing response.

Your Faithfully

Mrs Edna Womble

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