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A. A. Gill is a former alcoholic - or is it a recovering alcoholic? - so it's rather good that his initials are A.A. I will add this to the growing list of amusingly appropriate names mentioned at NER, even though he can't hold a candle to Kevin de Cock. Anyway, taking one subject, if not one day, at a time, A. A. Gill is a bit of a prat, but sometimes he's quite funny, as here on the subject of signing off:
I’ve been considering the minefield of signing off, made so much more acute by e-mail, and I’ve come to realise that all trite expressions of insincere affection drive me to a puce distraction. “Missing you already”: no you’re not, but I wish I were. This should be used only by inept snipers. “LOL”: so much L, in fact, that you can’t even be bothered to spell it out. “Hugs’n’kisses”: anything with a connecting “n” is grounds for wiping your family name from the escutcheon of history. Smiley face: how utterly oxymoronic is smiley face? “Take care”: so you’re implying I’m a simple-minded invalid? “Keep it real”: as opposed to what? Keeping it fantastical? Mythological? Legendary? “Be careful out there”: no, you be careful, because you have no idea how many people want you dead. “Ciao”, “Auf Wiedersehen”, “A bientôt”: anything foreign is nauseating. As is Latin: “Ave!” or “Nil carborundum sodomiti” (“Don’t let the buggers grind you down”). Appeals to God — “Bless”, “Inshallah”, “Shalom” — are only ever written by the damnably apostate. There’s the cheerily Falstaffian “Keep your powder dry”, “Anchors away”, “Steady the buffs” — and the organic-hippie “Keep the faith” and “In with the anger, out with the love”, which are both what a girl I know calls “shag-busters”.
I realise that anyone who sends an e-mail with an attached cliché of even the mildest sentiment disgusts me beyond redemption — certainly beyond invitation. Which leaves us with a problem: how do you sign off? Do you just keep on and on and on writing? Shamefully, I must admit to use of the X key. I don’t mean multiple use, and never, ever, I swear, with an O. But I do do it to people I couldn’t be induced to kiss for cash. I know this is a concern that many of you will have answering suggestions for. Briefly, on an e-mail or a postcard. Cheers. Laters. AA. X
And it's goodbye from me, or, as John Betjeman didn't say, tinkerty tonk.