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WHO says politicians don’t have a sense of humour?

Certainly, not Sheffield City councillor Jackie Drayton – as a new book illustrates.

During her time as Lord Mayor the Labour member for Burngreave received a letter apparently from an Italian detailing his regular visits to the “hamlet” of Sheffield.

“Is there somewhere you can get a good pop-up toaster?” he wrote. “four-slice not two-slice and where you can remove the bottom without some complicated toolkit to expel the crumbs.”

Sensing it was a spoof, our first citizen played along and sent an equally surreal response back.

“Sheffield is a brilliant place,” she wrote. “And the shops happen to have an exceptionally good range of four-slice pop-up toasters. Personally, I have to make do with a two-slice, which takes twice as long, as my in-laws gave it to me.”

Five years later and the exchange appears in a new book, More Morello Letters, in which the eponymous Mr Morello sends bizarre missives to public figures.

“You have to be careful,” says Coun Drayton recalling the incident. “But it was obvious it was a spoof, and I thought a reply would show off Sheffield’s sense of humour.”


Regular readers will remember I was struggling with this Sheffield-ism - and asked for help in Thursday’s Diary. So, thanks to everyone who emailed in to tell me it means ‘Are you home alone?’

And ‘Astagorratanner’ doesn’t actually translate as ‘Do you have £10’ as I said. In fact it’s ‘Have you got sixpence?’

AND Thusday’s Take Two column inspired another email.

Stan Brooks says the reference to a Sheffield bar named after an over-rated 1920s American novel left him scratching his head as to what it is.

The Great Gatsby, Stan, in Division Street.

Another reader – I might as well confess it’s her what I live with – notes I’m an uncultured yob for dismissing the book as over-rated.