AMBITION - a short story

To the chief executive,

Sainsbury’s UK

Dear Sir/Madam - well I expect you are a Sir rather than a Madam, gender inequality at the top of our great retail companies being what it
manifestly is – so Dear Sir, (sorry no time to Google your actual name but you will know what it is, no doubt)

It has come to my attention that your Sketty branch in Swansea is in need of upgrading and substantial reorganisation: you will know the one, between the launderette and the hearing aid office on the corner opposite the Vivian. You will be pleased to hear that I should like to offer my services.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Matilda Moraghan (Please note the ‘g’ in the spelling of my name – so many people don’t and it drives me potty…) and I am a qualified specialist in Artificial Intelligence and Systems Analysis. I would like to present you with my radical new plans for this modest little branch. 

First I would tear down all the aisles and clear the space for genuine interaction between the buying public (the punters)
and your staff, many of whom would sadly have to be let go at this point.

The goods would be stacked neatly along the back wall of the store, a wall which I would first pull down and rebuild ten yards further back to afford more space. I would change the order in which goods are stacked, so that (for example) Bovril is next to Marmite, rather than some irritating distance away from it; they do after all serve much the same purpose. Unless of course you are a vegetarian, which as it happens I am not. Furthermore the spaghetti should not be several yards away from the gnocchi as it is at present, and I noticed that you are completely out of Victoria plums.

I have several more radical ideas which would vastly improve your footfall, but before I go into these, I should clear up a couple of points: my remuneration and my availability.

I have been accustomed to commanding six figure salaries to date, and naturally I could not contemplate taking over your store for anything less. I am open to offers, but I should point out that a few other retail outfits are interested in me, here and in the United States. (Waitrose in Pontprennau have asked me not to mention their name.)

As for my availability, I am committed to finishing my work at a new Aldi store in Cardiff, and they have indicated that they would find it impossible carry on without me. This should take three more months. After that, I have promised my grandchildren Gruff and Ori that I will take them to Alton Towers, a trip that will have to fit in with their parents’ holiday plans so I cannot say when it will be possible. Once that trip is accomplished, I am all yours!
I look forward to hearing from you urgently.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Matilda


To the Secretary,

International Tiddlywinks/Netball team


Dear Sir,

I am writing to apply for the post of team coach for your international team, which I understand is vacant. I am currently
living in Swansea, UK but I shall very shortly be obliged to relocate to Malawi, as my sister Dr Matilda Moraghan is being pursued by an entirely
mistaken and unjust legal process involving matters too tedious to bore you with.

So the two of us are arriving in your beautiful country next Thursday. We shall initially have the status of temporary visitors, but once you have accepted me as your netball coach – no sorry, do I mean tiddlywinks coach? – I trust that we will both be granted work permits and given leave to remain indefinitely. I assume that is how it works? This has been arranged in something of a hurry and we have not had time to investigate the status of overseas professionals in Madagascar/Malawi.

As you may well be aware, I can claim in all modesty to be a world champion in your sport. I realise that your team has not had much international success so far in competitions – frightfully bad luck, being beaten by Germany on penalties last year! Or was it Switzerland? Whatever, a demoralizing experience I’m sure, and one for which you have my deepest sympathy. But fear not, I have just the right qualities to rectify the situation. I am
hardworking and steady, and very good at bonding a team together. I tend to model myself on Gareth Southgate. Furthermore I am athletic, and used to
running and jumping, and excellent at shooting goals through a net – though that might not be quite so necessary in the case of tiddlywinks, I admit.

My sister Dr Moraghan wants me to add that she too would be happy to work for you if a suitable post should offer itself. She has many qualities; she has been working in retail, so perhaps she could run your team gift shop? She too is hardworking and steady, and used to running and jumping… Perhaps more pertinently, she has excellent business sense, as well as being honest and above all modest.
She has some interesting ideas on how to market key rings and stationery items with your national flag printed on them.
What striking colours you have on your flag! And perhaps with pictures of your animals – maybe lemurs, or crocodiles, if you have any in your
beautiful land? She is also very good at drawing tigers and parrots. Do you have penguins, I wonder?

If we have not received your reply before we leave the UK, you can find us at the Best Western hotel in Nairobi – possibly Accra? I’m sorry for the confusion; this will all be sorted out when we arrive in your wonderful country. We are very keen on mountains - but also of course flat plains; we love the sea, but naturally we do not mind being far from the coast.

With very best wishes,

Gerard Moraghan BA in Sports Science


To Her Majesty the Queen

London, UK

Dear Ma’am - I do hope that is the correct way to address you,
I am writing to introduce myself and my extremely talented sister Dr Matilda Moraghan. We have heard that you are in need of a new head gardener in your wonderful gardens, and we should like to offer our services.

We are currently residing in Malawi but we shall very shortly be concluding our business here. I have been coaching the national lacrosse team in Malawi with some moderate success. (You will no doubt be aware that lacrosse was first played as early as the seventeenth century - though not of course in Malawi! It is not in fact all that different from polo, which several members of your own family are proficient at... Except that lacrosse players do not ride
horses, of course.) Unfortunately the World Lacrosse Championship has been unfairly dominated of late by other more powerful countries and our employers here in Lilongwe feel that they no longer have the resources to pay the salaries of my sister and myself. In short, they have asked us to leave on the next available flight.

Luckily this leaves us free to apply to run your gardens, beginning with the one surrounding Buckingham Palace. I know that you have a vast array of very old plants there, and no doubt you will want to keep some of these for sentimental reasons - those planted by Queen Victoria and her consort for example, your distinguished forbears. However I wonder if we could introduce some more modern foliage? We are hoping to bring over to the UK some of the fascinating plants we have seen here in Malawi, although we anticipate that there may be some minor export regulations to be overcome. Fear not: my sister Matilda, who is as you will be aware a world famous botanist, has a special compartment in her suitcase which should remain safely hidden from the prying eyes of the customs officials. I believe we can promise you a wide variety of plants native to Malawi, such as the many orchid species – more here than in any other African country.

It would be most convenient if you could reply to this letter by return.
Could you also ask your Foreign Secretary (I forget who it is at present, but you will no doubt know) to make it plain to the authorities in Malawi
that my sister and I are BRITISH SUBJECTS and should not be in any way harassed or indeed imprisoned. If you could also send us the return fare to London, it would be greatly appreciated.

Yours most sincerely

Gerard Moraghan BA, Fellow of the Royal College of Gardeners, Dip Ed

To the Chief Education Officer
South Wales

Dear Madam,

I am replying to your advert for a qualified person to run play schemes over the Christmas holidays in your area. You may have come across my work already in connection with my reorganisation of the little Sainsbury’s in Sketty. Since my endeavours there, my brother Gerard and I have been abroad on a secret assignment for Her Majesty’s government which naturally I am not at liberty to disclose to you, but I can tell you that Her Majesty was so grateful for our help in this matter that she invited us to supervise the development of aspects of her beloved garden at Buckingham Palace. I am of course a qualified botanist, as you will know.

With the coming of the autumn, the Queen has graciously indicated that our work for her is complete. We both expect to be suitably rewarded in the New Year Honours List - a knighthood for my brother is not beyond the bounds of possibility – and for myself, Dame Matilda would seem
to have a certain ring to it, would it not? But that is strictly under wraps for now, and we are sure we can rely on your discretion.

We find ourselves therefore at liberty to offer our services to you to run play schemes over the Christmas holidays. (It was Christmas, not Easter, wasn’t it? I’m afraid I can’t at the moment put my finger on the cutting my brother showed me.)

We are both of us eminently suited to working with children of all ages. I have practically brought up my grandchildren Ori and Gruff, and I know all about Minecraft, Ninja turtles, Fortnite, the Invincibles, Balamory, Pepper Pig et al – what a wealth of entertainment our modern youth is heir to! Gruff and Ori go to holiday play schemes quite often, but I have found what is on offer rather pedestrian up till now. My ideas would be far more ambitious; my brother Gerard is of course a well known round-the-world yachtsman and I would like to introduce an element of adventure for children. We would organise a yacht race along the Bristol Channel from Dale in the west to Caldicot in the east; you would have to proved suitable boats, with the cost of hiring them reflected in the price paid by each child.

Another possibility would be a cookery competition – they are all the rage these days, aren’t they? I have worked as a chef myself in the past – my work for Harrods was particularly successful when my creation entitled ‘Caramel Latte Matilda’ won an award on a national show. I have connections with S4C, the BBC and ITV Wales and would be able to pull a few strings to set up a televised baking competition for the children on your various play schemes.

We have several more ideas which we would like to run before you. Please do get in touch without delay as I am also being considered for the post of chief assistant to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Yours cordially,

Dame (almost) Matilda Moraghan

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