Almost every morning at Dixon Mansions a shower of paperwork flutters to the doormat.
And mingled with the red bills, disconcerting bank statements and admonitory letters from Nice Mister Access come tempting offers to spend the Dixon millions (well, tens) on labour-saving gadgets, industrial-strength cleaning products and a bewilderingly wide range of fleecy undergarments.
The latest of these invitations to land enticingly on the sisal was from top thermalwear purveyors Damart, and it was a classic of its kind.
Mrs D, it transpires, is recognised as having a “High Level of Recommendation”.
She has had a Customer Bonus agreed by no less a dignitary than G Hall, Head of Customer Services.
Moreover and to boot, she has been Authorised by the Finance Department and Approved by the Prize & Award Department.
So now she is a proud beneficiary of Damart’s Customer Awards scheme, with a grand total of 1,643 points to her name.
This, of course, entitles her to a Gift from Damart’s Audio-Visual Collection, which is where the fun really starts.
(Incidentally, it’s Damart chucking all those capital letters around, not some system malfunction at Chronicle Towers.)
Number One prize is a Philips 28-inch Widescreen TV, identical in almost every respect to the one currently doing service at the Mansions.
So we know for a fact that it’s so bulky it takes three people to lift it, that it was first on the market four years ago, and that it has since been made pretty much obsolete by today’s gorgeous pulsating flat-screen plasma LCD high-definition 1080p technology.
Which we are not buying at the moment. Until the price comes down. And we’ve finished paying for the old one...
With great consideration, Damart included with their letter a great big chunk of cardboard illustrating Mrs D’s potential prize, with arrows pointing up and down and marked TOP and BOTTOM in case there should be any confusion if we ever do get our hands on it. Very handy, that.
Next on the prize list is a Samsung Camcorder, which on closer inspection appears to be a Hi8 Camcorder.
Now Hi8 is an analogue recording format which, apart from being about as up-to-date as the crinoline, has one distinct disadvantage in this modern digital world: you need to buy extra wires and boxes full of electronic gubbins before you can transfer your movies to your computer for editing.
Spotting a picture here? Damart isn’t exactly giving away the Crown Jewels. And when you get to the small print it all gets much clearer.
Only one person will win each of these top prizes: most customers will receive a small portable radio, of which Damart are so proud that they’ve covered up its picture with a Post-It Note in their promotional literature.
Enough said. It’s the sort of marketing that Reader’s Digest used to excel at (and probably still do, if we weren’t the only family in Britain not to be on their mailing lists).
However, some people may read between the lines and wonder what Mrs D must have bought to rack up her Massive Total of 1,643 Status Points.
Was it, they might wonder, a nostalgic style, fully gathered Wincyette Nightdress in Aubergine Check?
Was it a Short Sleeved Massage Vest that took her fancy, or a Thermolactyl Classic? Or maybe a Shirred Jersey Blouse? Whatever “shirred” means.
Intriguing though these choices sound, the fact is that Mrs D isn’t really into all that Damart stuff, and as far as we can remember has never bought a single item of finery from them in all her life.
She’s simply a Recommended Customer: and if we ever find out who Recommended her we shall have words to say about it.
This column was first published in The Bath Chronicle on January 10 2008. Copyright Bath News & Media 2008.