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Debrett's people: here today, gone tomorrow

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Before all the new entries get too wildy excited about being included in the new Debrett's People of Today (Astragal, 22.1.04), they should ask themselves if they have ever seen it on sale, on display in a library, or anyone even consulting it.

Especially before they part with any money.

About 10 years ago I received a letter from Debrett informing me that I was being included and could they have details of my career. I dutifully sent them off. A couple of weeks later came a once-in-a-lifetime offer to buy the said book at a very special knock-down pre-publication price in the region of £100.

I never replied.

Every year I was sent my previous year's entry to update.

Every year I dutifully sent it back, and by return received the invitation for yet another oncein-a-lifetime offer. Each year the cost steadily increased.

The millennium came and went. I was told I was even being put in a special 'Millennium Edition' - I think that was called People of the Century.It probably had buckram covers, tooled leather corners and steel engraved endplates. Just like those Reader's Digest offers that fall through the letter box, Debrett's letters came every year until finally I decided not to answer. I've never heard from it since.

I went in search of this tome once, if only to see what all the fuss was about, and read my name alongside such worthies as Sir Richard Attenborough, or Lord Winston in my case. At every enquiry desk in every library I went to, I was met with blank stares from the librarian.

They had never heard of it. Has anyone ever seen a copy?

Sam Webb, Canterbury

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