Can I tell you a story about a very young and impressionable girl with a
very vivid imagination?
One day she received a letter in the mail and
with great excitement opened it to find a roneode message
(most of you would be too young to remember these
they were blue on slimy paper and they smelt.
They were the original photocopy)
The message on this sheet offered wondrous events
as long as she sent it on to 10 other friends...but
if she didn't then great bad luck would befall her.
Example were given of people dying or falling ill.
She was a good girl
and had always been keen to please others
and always did as she was told
but this worried her.
She did not want to send such a message to her friends
but if she didn't what would happen.
Her Mother being a sensible soul
said throw it out and immediately screwed it up and threw it in the bin.
As luck would have it,
there was a family incident that night
that involved a missing brother and police searching for him, parents in a panic.
the young girl raced to the bin,
unscrewed the sheet of paper and dragged out the phone book.
Not being able to roneo the sheet,
she painstakingly copied it 10 times then selected 10 addresses
out of the phone book
and whilst her parents were talking to the police (at 4a.m.)
she ran all the way to the top of the street and posted those ten letters.
By the time she got back her brother had turned up at home
(it was a car and boy thing totally innocent and harmless)
Inside her mind she knew it was not the letter...or was it.
Several day passed and her feelings of guilt
at sending this disaster to strangers
would not go away and she could not eat or sleep.
Her parents became worried.
Eventually she became quite ill,
as she imagined awful things happening to these stranger
(I did say she was young and had a vivid imagination!)
So again she got out the phone book
and went through every page to find the ink dots she had left beside the chosen names.
Again she painstakingly hand wrote ten letters
of apology for doing this terrible thing to them.
She did not sign her name.
She again walked up to the letterbox at the end of the street
and posted each one of those 10 letters.
That night she ate and slept for the first time in six days.
Over the years she received more letters in a similar vein.
She threw them in the bin.
She would not sleep for several days.
But then, when nothing dreadful happened, she would carry on.
Even today when she reads the words
send on to 3 friends, 4 women you admire, eight work colleagues.....
she feels nauseated and her skin prickles
but she has never, never, never sent another such letter or email
on to another living soul.
That is my story for tonight