My 80th birthday present? A cigarette

a packet of cigarettes
‘I keep telling my family that when I reach 80 I shall smoke my first ever cigarette,’ writes Anne Abbott. Photograph: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

Helena Newton, Henrietta Cubitt and I must be kindred spirits and certainly of the same generation of delayed gratification (Letters, 12 October). I keep telling my family that when I reach 80 I shall smoke my first ever cigarette, possibly with a coffee and croissant. What price the small things in life?
Anne Abbott

• The women lead the way again! This year nearly two-thirds of the new entrants to Somerville College, Oxford, will be from state schools, and the university’s first academic admissions statistics show that between 2015 and 2017 the college took 56.8% from state schools. Three cheers from a state-educated alumna who was accepted there 61 years ago!
Helen Keating
Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway

• Reading Shortcuts (I never forget a face: how to fake it, G2, 11 October) reminds me of the late, great Simon Hoggart telling the famous story about Sir Thomas Beecham, who once met a woman in a hotel lobby (or Harrods – the story comes in many versions) whom he vaguely recognised but couldn’t name. Thrashing round for a clue, he asked if her husband was in the same job. “Yes, still king,” she replied.
Ian Garner
Keighley, West Yorkshire

• Will my ration card from 1950 get me some Brexit cheese (Cheese stockpile: Dairy firm’s no-deal hoard, 12 October)? I’ve got a few vouchers left.
Hephzibah Yohannan
Altrincham, Cheshire

• Has someone been creaming off the profits (Patisserie Valerie faces winding up order from HMRC, 11 October)?
Marion Hutt
Seaford, East Sussex

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