Dear Sir

I am returning herewith an item manufactured by your company, which was purchased by the present Mrs Caruthers at a local department store three days ago.

Please do not assume that there is a manufacturing flaw in the product, or that in purchasing it, my wife erroneously chose a colour that was not sympathetic to our décor. I understand that the Sale Of Goods Act is likely to mean that your company will have a legal obligation to offer a replacement; notwithstanding this, I would be most grateful if you would instruct your customer service department not to do that under any circumstances.

Neither do I seek a refund of the purchase price, nor indeed any recompense for the re-packaging and postage charges incurred in returning it to your august establishment.

To be frank, I cannot think of a single occasion when I was more pleased to have something out of my sight, and its permanent absence from my home is more than sufficient compensation. I would gladly pay twice the purchase price never to have it darken my door again. In the few short days we have had the offending article, I have realised that I have succumbed to a profound – nay, pathological - hatred far beyond that of which I thought I was capable.

I have had my patience tried by many things in my time on this earth.

There was the occasion of Mrs Abernethy’s obsequiously simpering King Charles stealing a pound of putrefying sausages from the rear of the butcher’s shop, and then, some hours later, glutinously and odiferously voiding its bowels on my prize marrow.

That is nothing in comparison.

Neither is my mother-in-law’s infuriating insistence that the transmission in her Sunbeam Stiletto has only two forward gears, and that the tortured scream of the engine as she hurtles down the lane towards an unsuspecting Cholmondeley St Pancreas, rear wheels akimbo, is perfectly normal.

I knew nothing of my wife’s acquisition of the article in question until, having listened to yet another unfathomable play on Radio Four featuring a bewildering array of impenetrable regional dialects, several thirty-something lesbians and no discernible plot, I polished off the remains of a small glass of Calvados and retired to the boudoir. Mrs Caruthers was fast asleep and snoring vigorously, and being unwilling to wake her and risk facing a toupée-lifting broadside of puffy-eyed displeasure, I stole into bed.

Never have I spent such an uncomfortable night.

I have slept between the thighs of acrid camels in Libya, with my head resting on a pile of warm dung. I have slept suspended from a banyan tree in a hammock covered in soldier ants in the Belgian Congo, afraid to whimper lest the fuzzy-wuzzies should hear and cut off my nipples in the night. I have slept in a too-small igloo badly constructed by a cheery Inuit who had had too much to drink, with my feet poking out at the mercy of marauding polar bears.

All of those were a post-prandial nap on a Chesterfield warmed by the lazy Sunday afternoon sunshine in comparison.

The thing that now covered our bed in place of the crisp white sheet, blanket and counterpane reduced that first night to one I would not wish on your worst enemy.

As I slid beneath it, it quickly transpired that the confounded thing relied entirely on the force of gravity to maintain its position atop the bed. As I felt round my half of the perimeter, it was obvious that it was not secured at all. Consequently, if I pulled it up, it exposed my toes. If I used my toes to adjust it longitudinally, it exposed my chin. Attempting to turn over while underneath it was equally frustrating. If I turned to face the back of my comatose spouse, the covering followed me, and exposed my backside. If I turned away from her, it exposed her ample hindquarters, and her instinctive reaction was to seize it, and hoick it back over her, leaving both me and my flannelette pyjamas open to the elements.

Only by lying motionless on my back was I able to prevent the blasted thing from moving around like a half-inflated barrage balloon in a stiff wind. However, bereft of any peripheral ventilation, I quickly got far too hot. I felt like a chop at Regulo 6. I was forced to loosen the draw-cord at the waist of my pyjamas, and undo three buttons at the top. No sooner had the steam issuing from my gently poaching body started to subside, Mrs C would turn over, and the entire edifice would be whisked away again.

At 04:47 hours, I finally fell into a fitful sleep. At 05:19 hours I woke to hear a muffled dawn chorus, but the room was unfamiliarly dark and airless. After some moments thrashing around like a fugitive caught in a Conan-Doyle Dartmoor quicksand, I fought my way out from beneath the evil contraption and got up, breathing hard and sweating profusely.

I was justifiably irritable for much of the day, and I am not ashamed to say that I vented my spleen on the rhubarb. Mrs Caruthers slumbered blissfully until 09:35, and then wondered what all the fuss was about.

I had to cook my own kidneys for breakfast.

My mood was darkened further that afternoon by Ms Wilberforce obliging me to dive into a hawthorn hedge I was trimming as she thundered by in her Morris Traveller in a blur of half-timbering, scattering chippings and small animals in her wake.

The following two nights were spent in comparative bliss in the guest bedroom, safely ensconced in correctly assembled sleeping apparatus.

In conclusion, I do hope that you do not regard my difficulties with your product in any way a personal affront.

I have simply arrived at the conclusion that I am fundamentally incompatible with a duvet.

Yours obediently, etc.