What a Nerve He Has, 1946
An intriguing letter from The Lanarkshire Sunday Post in 1946.
So, the Second World War is not long over, and a Kirkcaldy housewife, Mrs A. G. Forsyth, receives a letter out of the blue from an ex-Italian soldier. (At this point I’m totally imagining Mrs Forsyth looking like Terry Jones as a Monty Python “pepperpot”, unfairly.)
Never mind how the Italian ex-soldier got her address, but it was a heart-rending plea.
“After five years of war I am remained without anything but the eyes to weep, and a maiming of more than 50 per cent. as certificated by the document lieing by. Not knowing how to carry on my life and support the expenses of my family, I apply to your noble, great, and generous heart, praying for a financial help limited to your possibilities.
Or better, if you could present me with a small ice cream machine with your name cut on it, as it is very seldom to get one in Italy, and also very dear, more than 150 thousand lires and I cannot afford to buy due to my poverty…”
Because ice cream machines were plenteous and cheap in 1946 Kirkcaldy, of course.
It’s got to be a scam, hasn’t it? But a bit of an odd one. Mrs Forsyth thought so. She “wonders if other readers had got similar letters”, and dismissed the whole thing with “I know the British are considered soft by foreigners, but we’re not as soft as all that!”
It reminds me a bit of the Nigerian 419 scams of today, although, to be fair, there’s nothing promised to the recipient of the letter apart from a feeling of goodwill. Still, there’s nothing new under the sun, as the con tricks of 100 years ago detailed by Harry Houdini show – here.