Christmas 2005

I feel quite sure that I could easily get away with just re-publishing my highly amusing and entertaining newsletter from a couple of years ago. Adjust a date here, swap a paragraph there. Use Photoshop to make everyone a bit taller (or a bit fatter). Why not? Well I’ll tell you why not. The more jobs like this I can do, the more weight they lend to my excuses for not building websites, painting various things (various colours) and generally making myself useful around the house. So, here goes. This could take weeks.

Jamie has completed his year at ngm and finds himself in the happy state of being totally skint. Happy days indeed. And he’s got himself somewhere to live. 33 Haywards Close – which isn’t a million miles from 16 Haywards Close where we live and that must be very handy (for him). However we all need to make some cash, and even as I write, he is in York trying to earn a crust (didn’t have crusts when I was a lad – we had to make do with sausages made from old hamsters).

Vicki has completed a successful year at art college in Oxford and is in her final year. Maybe she’ll go on to do a degree in something or other and then into teaching. Not sure at this stage. Anyhow, of more importance is that she is upstairs painting our newly refurbished bathroom. No point in having art qualifications if you can’t put them to good use.

Joe is in his final year at St Birinus and Didcot (“I don’t go to Didcot Girls School”) Girls School. Been for a few University interviews (including Cambridge) with a view to becoming professor of hard languages. I am hopeful that as his skill in foreign languages progresses he’ll be able to tell me what Gordon and Robert are saying at the tea table. No point in having language qualifications if you can’t put them to good use.

Which brings me to Gordon and Robert. Their fate is still to be treated as a single person ‘the boys’ even though they now have their own bedrooms. Both making their way through school, as teenage lads do (no further comment required here). Their enthusiasm for rugby wained (it was wained off  – sorry) but they’re slowly getting back into it and should be raring to go by the time the season finishes.

Anna Jane has acquired a tortoise called Herbacious (she calls him Herbie and he calls her Anna Jane). Herbie was given to us by our very good friends Bruce and Anne – that’s how we know his name – he can’t actually talk you know. An unusual gift I think you’ll agree – not your usual offering of wine and chocolates. The main problem with tortoises is how to pronounce the word tortoise. I’ll leave you consider that one over your wine and chocolates.

Annie and I went to Estonia in the summer. That was so cool. Well it was once we had discovered the whereabouts of Estonia. It is near Latvia and Lithuania (no, I didn’t know that either). Stayed in Tallinn for a few nights and then with dear friends Alec and Pauline in Tartu. Lovely country. Lovely vodka. Lovely jubbly.

Ah yes. We had the undoubted blessing of having both Annie’s mother and my mother staying here at the same time. There’s enough comic material in that visit alone for a 10 gigabyte blog (try saying that with your teeth out). I am undecided about what was most memorable. I think the prize must go to the two hundredweight of, lets say, slightly unusual foodstuffs that accompany Annie’s mum wherever she goes (from memory – mint and frogspawn cordial, oil of ferret and the bark from two whole Californian redwood trees). You know the sort of thing.

Annie has just reminded me that we have been away for a couple of romantic weekends this year. So romantic in fact that I have absolutely no recollection of either. Now that’s either a waste of time and money, or it means we can go again next year and I’ll enjoy the surprise of going somehere new. Well that’s just plain silly, but you know me. Just plain silly.

So as another Happy Christmas approaches I’ll say goodbye, love to all and God Bless You. And while I’m here on the old word processor I may as well shuffle the paragraphs around and save a second copy marked Christmas Letter 2007. Be prepared. That’s my motto (or was that the scouts motto – I can’t seem to remember).