Christmas 2004

Christmas 2004 Newsletter
by Howard

Nothing much this year. Jamie left home, I became 50, Vicki started college and Annie got a new shed. OK, I admit it. Plenty has happened; another momentous year. They always are. Now are you sitting comfortably? Well if not, grab a tube of hemorrhoid ointment and join me…

Jamie got his A-Levels this summer – congratulations. So what you gonna do son? Dunno. Any thoughts? Nope. June, July, August. Any thoughts yet son? Nope. Then the fateful day arrived. The day Jamie filled in a last minute application form to attend ngm ( www.ngm.org.uk – go look it up). Interview. Audition. Acceptance. Leave home. Move into flat. Hey, who needs thoughts? Congratulations again son, you did well. During the summer Jamie went to Soul Survivor ( www.soulsurvivor.co.uk ) and Soul in the City ( www.soulinthecity.co.uk ) to help the under privelaged in the inner city. What a thoroughly good bloke 🙂

Oddly enough, this leads me to Gordon, who not being entirely daft (not entirely) located Jamie’s bedroom, now relatively empty, apart from 25 sacks worth of rubbish, and moved in. I say ‘sacks worth’ just so you’re clear that the rubbish was not actually in any form of container. Robert, also not entirely daft, stayed put. Thus getting a bedroom to himself too. Smart kids. Gordon and Rob, also known as  ‘the boys’ round these parts, have taken up rugby and both play at Grove RFC. Not sure what the RFC stands for. Something to do with rugby I imagine. So if you live in Wantage or Grove and someone ‘sends the boys round’ don’t worry. Just say hello to Gordon and Rob from me.

Even more oddly enough, we come to Anna Jane, who having choosen to revert to her former name Perry and not Hill, becomes an honorary member of The Hill Tribe (still a highly distinguished position I can tell you). That girl has definitely got the James Herriot touch. Breeding and selling guinea pigs very successfully. Breeding rabbits not quite so successfully. Started up a modest dog walking company (in order to walk modest dogs). A vet in the making for sure.

Joe, another Perry in the woodpile, gaining excellent marks in all his GCSE subjects, and is now at Didcot 6th Form studying Maths (sums), Further Maths (hard sums), French and German, and is doing very well indeed. He continues to amaze us with his skill at tackling (and genuinely understanding) wierd languages and was last seen chatting to Anna’s rabbits (maybe that’s why they haven’t bred quite so successfully). Joe declined the offer to go on the family holiday this summer and instead went for 2 weeks camping in Scotland (Arran) with a friend and got eaten by midges. Joe is now over 7 feet tall. Well he certainly seems to be anyway.

Vicki excelled in her GCSEs and gained a place at Oxford & Cherwell College doing Art and Design (sticking things together and then painting them). In the summer she went to Zambia (brave girl) on a school trip, and to her credit, she saved up a third of the cost herself. She went to Soul Survivor (www.soulsurvivor.co.uk) with all her friends, then to Poland with the family. Busy girl. Vicki continues to be total superstar whether at church, college or at home. Well done missy. Your Mum would have been so very proud of you.

Annie and I continue to do what we must do (ie work a lot). Annie retains her sanity by working in her alloted allotment as often as possible. Highlights of her year include the council erecting a fence, Jamie and I erecting a shed, and a bumper harvest of butternut squashes. Hmmmm, butternut squashes. I retain my sanity by…. only kidding. Wibble. Had a 50th birthday in August. Or was it July? Now where did I leave that brain I had with me earlier? What a party. Annie tells me it was fantastic. Really cool to see June, Jeannie, Lizzi and Gina as well as the rest of family and lots and lots of friends. Really missed you Averil, Chris, Charlie and John. Our family summer holiday to Poland was quite a journey (via Berlin) but it was worth the effort. The flights were a very silly 99p each (Ryan Air). In Poland beer was around 30p a bottle for the good stuff. Can’t remember a thing. Annie tells me I had a great time. I have given up being secretary to Wantage Churches Together and active membership of the Chamber of Commerce in order to concentrate more on supporting our local church. I have also taken to walking the Ridgeway, although that has lapsed recently, much to my shame.

Life is good, as my Mum says.

Speaking about Mum (whose life is good, remember) she is doing canny and continues to get ever more eccentric. She could be eccentric for Britain, no problem. Mad as a bucket of soapy frogs. Dad seems to be enjoying life too, even though he has been wheelchair-bound for the nearly 5 years. He has just moved into a nursing home in Shiremoor. God bless them both. They’re the very best. Always were.

Musical notes: Jamie writes music and plays guitar and vocals (rather well if you ask me). His band played in ‘Battle of the Bands’ in Oxford and won!! Anna’s learning the flute, Joe is learning the guitar (and has the benefit of two Dads to help him) and Rob still plays drums (took part in Battle of the Bands). Vicki sings and has performed several times in bands in Wantage and Oxford. I continue to play electric guitar and bass. My proudest moment ever was playing bass in the church (Civic Hall Wantage) with Jamie leading on guitar and vocals, Vicki on vocals and Rob on drums. Gordon was road manager.

Begging Letter Bit: In case you’re curious, Jamie is doing and being trained to do, yoof work, in a place called Thornbury near Bristol. Helping the under-priveleaged (youth clubs, drop-in centres, schools work etc) and other things that you don’t get paid to do. No grant. No pay. He is living on sponsorship from those of us who earn money and is pretty skint. So if you’d like to support him with money and/or food parcels, please get in touch.

So, in closing, The Hill Tribe wish you a very happy Christmas, a peaceful New Year and God’s blessings to you all.