Monday, February 27, 2012
By Terry Ravenscroft
For the next couple weeks I’d like to review a couple of collections by Ravenscroft. This is a bit coincidental as I just uploaded a post on my other blog regarding humor. Humor is a tricky thing and each person defines what’s funny. Keep that in mind when you read further.
Former factory worker Terry Ravenscroft, who lives in Derbyshire, England, has written a number of letters to British food corporations describing various ‘complaints’ and offering suggestions for product improvement. This book is a collection of those letters and the companies’ subsequent replies. Mr. Ravenscroft starts with one of the most popular brand names, Coca-Cola, writing to see if the drink includes any type of animal matter because he has visiting friends who are vegetarians. Then he wonders whether the company actually puts cocaine (hence the soda’s name) into the drink. From there he contacts every business from soup to nuts, from tea to pasta, from chocolate to dog food. Most of the replies he receives are very professional with a few ‘standard form letters’ and even some company representatives adding their own bits of humor. Each letter seems to get more outlandish than the last.
For a person with too much time on his hands who wants to stir up a little humorous controversy, I suppose writing letters to companies is the way to go.
None, unless you count the representatives from the corporations who, for the most part, remain professional.
I suppose the dialogue in the letters remains consistent throughout and the dialogue in the replies vary from slightly nudge-nudge-wink-wink to blatant form letter.
While Mr. Ravenscroft is going for humor, he sometimes steps over the line of professionalism and decency. Though there are a fair number of laughs to be had, some of his replies are mildly to medium insulting and after a few of these, it is no wonder the companies contacted simply do not reply as is often stated. Similarly, and this is purely personal preference, it was not necessary to include the plethora information regarding his sexual peccadilloes, true or not. Many letters included information regarding activities that lacked common sense, such as the nanny throwing in an unopened tin of tuna into a meal because the directions suggested ‘adding a can of tuna.’ I admire the companies remaining professional, even going so far as to offer vouchers and coupons. I also give credit to the creativity of Mr. Ravenscroft but he generally came off as a pest.