A series of letters

An example of an Oakwood dining table

To the editor

RE:  Your review of my new oakwood furniture dining collection (issue 293)

Sir, it was with great interest that I noted the substantial review afforded to my latest collection in a recent issue of your esteemed publication.

May I first say that I find your magazine to be the finest resource for information amongst the thriving home furnishing media market.  Not only does it exude an air of knowledge which is un-rivalled in your competitors (Tables Today, Chair and Vase Review etc) but it houses the finest group of home comfort writers anywhere, with their experience and creativity moulded deliciously to a wry wit, making your magazine an informative and fun journey through the often stressful world of furnishing.

However, it was to my dismay upon reading your latest issue that I came across a quite inaccurate review of my new Oakwood Furniture Dining Collection.  Your charming description of the elegant and resistant varnishing of the oak dinner table seemed to merely act as a mask for the robust negativity which was to follow in your article.

Your assertion that the 200x80x69 size was “mis-leadingly described as a large table capable of seating up to eight people” is grossly unjust.  I feel moved to point out to you that the capability of seating a group of eight guests at your dining table is entirely dependent on the size of coaster you adourn each sitting with.  I find that a small, informal coaster allows for greater elbow room and thus easily enables eight people to sit.  It is my polite hypothesis that your choice of coaster was perhaps larger than is necessary and therefore restricted your ability to seat your guests.  This, of course, makes for the “awkward and hazardous placement of the water jug” that you describe in your article.

I was also astounded to learn of your opinion that the texture of the oak finish was “much too authoritative to appreciate my 1928 Norwegian Sovereign cutlery”.  While I am happy to agree that the dinner table does have a firm feel to it, this is entirely deliberate.  I too am an admirer of Scandanavian cutlery, particularly the fine Swedish variations, and I found no conflict between the Swedish cutlery and the fine-grained nature of the design.

Most disappointing of all though was your savaging of the Willow Oak Chair.  Your claim that “the portrayal of this chair as being generously-dimensioned is a blatant lie” is absurd.  You must surely be aware that the gentle curvature of the chair’s back is unique in the field and its 95x52x58 make-up is ideal for allowing relaxation and freedom of movement, provided you have the correct seating stature, of course.  For the Willow Oak Chair to sustain optimum comfort it is essential that you sit with a 45° slouch, even when eating soup.  I would also advise sitting with your feet no more than five inches apart to feel the full delight of the sprung seat.  Though it should also be remembered that the addition of any cushion will effect the general ambiance of the chair.

I would be quite glad to meet with you in the near future, perhaps over dinner, so that we can experience the Oakwood Furniture Dining Collection together.  I feel that given a second seating you will agree with me that your original review was rashly inaccurate and that, with the adjustments I have advised, you will become quite enamoured with the set.

I look forward to your correspondence.

Yours in comfort

William Goldsmith


Dear Mr Goldstein

RE:  Your letter dated November 18th

Let me first thank you for your letter concerning our review of your new Oakwood Furniture Dining Collection.  It is always a pleasure to receive correspondence from a noble creator such as yourself.  As you are aware, we here at Vanishing the Surface Magazine hold you in the highest regard as a creative influence in the home furnishing world.

In regard to the concerns raised in your letter in relation to our review of your collection I feel, with the greatest respect, that your comments are entirely unfounded.  For you to claim that my choice of coaster was too large for your dining table is both irrelevant and ridiculous.  A large coaster is essential at my dinner parties, with my wife always being extremely generous in her portions.  The type of coaster you recommend would only lead to burning of the marvellous polish on your oak table, something that I’m sure we both agree would be a tragedy.

As far as the texture of the oak goes, I fear that this is something on which we will have to disagree.  My dinner parties tend to verge on the informal, perhaps even jovial occassion.  My guests and I concluded that the overt firmness of the oak detracted from the informality of the meal.  Indeed, one young lady remarked that the dining table had “fascist overtones” which I of course felt unnecessary to publish in the review.

Perhaps I should offer an apology for my remark that the statement of a generously-dimensioned chair is a blatant lie.  This was maybe written in haste and without the knowledge of correct seating stature.  However Mr Goldsmith, I fail to see how anybody choosing to invest in your collection will understand the need to sit at a 45° slouch to enjoy the comfort of the Willow Oak Chair.  I would also admit to being ignorant of the spacing between my two feet whilst enjoying dinner, but you must also understand that once one has consumed considerable amounts of wine with a meal it is very difficult to keep control of ones feet.

I appreciate your invitation to dinner and another opportunity to sample the Oakwood Furniture Dining Collection as it is intended, but it is with regret that I am inclined to reject your offer, with my diary being extraordinarily full for the forseeable future.  Please accept my apologies.

Yours respectfully

Iain Holdsworth Jnr.


Dear Mr. Holdsworth Jnr.

RE:  Your letter dated November 23rd

Your rejection of my dinner invitation has been noted and no apology is required.  However, in light of the snide nature of your letter please consider any future invitations to be with-held.

It was with the deepest distress that I read the use of the word fascist in your recent letter.  I found this to be extremely offensive and anti-semitic.  If this is the calibre of the guest with whom you choose to dine then it is no wonder that you could not appreciate the delicate intricacies of the Oakwood Furniture Dining Collection.

Your suggestion that people will not be aware of the correct seating stature required for my Willow Oak Chair is also utter hogwash.  It is my recommendation to you that you cut back on the units of alcohol which you consume, as it is no secret within the furnishing community that you are rather fond of the brown bag.

Yours in comfortable disappointment

William Goldsmith


Dear Mr. Goldsmith

RE:  Your letter dated November 26th

The defamation of my character in your previous correspondence has been forwarded to my lawyer who will no doubt be in contact with you by the time you receive this.

I would also inform you that the slander of my guests as being “anti-semitic” is being taken very seriously and a boycott of your future furnishings has been agreed upon by our magazine staff.

Allow me to take the time to show you the foolishness of your abrasive communication.  The fascist remark was ommitted from our review of the Oakwood Furniture Dining Collection with good reason, as were many observations made by my fellow guests on the evening.  It is this fact which makes your original letter of criticism all the more unnecessary because, in retrospect, our review was actually much more positive than it could, or perhaps should, have been.

For example, the un-refined structure of the legs left the dining table feeling quite unbalanced.  My guests deemed it ‘Napoleonic’ in stature.  The resistant varnishing we approved of was only so because it had to be resistant, given the volume of water spillage caused by the inadequate size of the table.  Indeed, so mis-leading was the term of “seats up to eight people” that we had to remove the serviettes and placecards prior to seating.  This was to cause great unrest later in the evening when Mrs. Adams realised that she had been sat next to Mr. Rose for the entire duration of the evening and not her husband, who was the intention of her wandering hands.

It is with regret that my opinion of your professionalism has plummeted in light of our recent disagreement, but any future contact with you shall be made through my lawyer.

Yours in regard,

Iain Holdsworth Jnr.


To the editor

Please consider this a notification of my intention to cancel my subscription to Vanishing the Surface Magazine.

Yours in comfortable protest

William Goldstein


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