Christmas Letter 2019

The year started off really well for us. We were invited to attend Ukuleles du Soleil in a chalet in the alps in France during February. You can see some of the photos I took on this trip. I think the highlight was performing a concert to some bemused skiers, way up in the snowy mountains. It was pure magic. For us, anyway.

Then we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a short holiday to Wiltshire. That was fun. There’s a photo album for that too.

Annie went to Hong Kong for a couple of weeks in May and had a lovely time. I had a lovely time back home, but we don’t talk about that.

First birthday party for both Harry and Reuben took place early in May and that’s when I took the family photo you can see above. I really like these big photos. The family grows bigger each year, and that’s why I need a bigger camera.

In May I allowed a man in a green mask to saw my leg in half, chop the ends of my leg bones off and replace them with metal. My goodness, that was a trauma and a half. Not just for the surgeon. I really hadn’t prepared myself for the extent of the operation. It’s 7 months on now and I can walk fine although the knee joint is still a bit tighter than normal. I go for surgery on the next knee in February. Thank goodness I only have two knees. “Two knees or not two knees” as Bill Shakespeare once wrote. Or was it Keats?

At the end of the month we got the most awful news. My dear brother Stuart died. He had been diagnosed with glioblastoma (brain cancer) a year earlier. The most evil cancer around and incurable. Stuart was the strongest men I ever knew; physically strong, and a powerful intellect. His strength showed itself to me in his generosity and his kindness. I miss him terribly. Still can’t believe it fully.

I felt very honoured to be contacted by the multi-talented musician Sam Brown (Joe Brown’s daughter) who asked me to stand in on bass for a ukulele concert she and her group in Nettlebed were giving. Now that was both a challenge and enormous fun. Good for the CV too.

The great news of 2019 is that Jamie and Kat got married. Great stag weekend away (details withheld) and a superb wedding. I was honoured to be asked to conduct the wedding (a week after the official paperwork at the registry office). I’d always fancied being a comedy vicar, but seriously, it was such a privilege. My band Jigworks came up to play the evening ceilidh and a great weekend was enjoyed by all.

Time for another holiday? Yes, why not. So off we went to Cornwall for a week and did all the usual things you’re meant to do in Cornwall. Eat pasties, mainly.

Then I got the biggest shock I’ve had for many a year. On the 1st December I took a phone call from Southmead hospital in Bristol. They called to say our son Gordon and his wife Libby had been involved in a head-on car crash and were both seriously injured. Gordon was taken to the Intensive Care Unit. I am relieved and thankful to report that after a few weeks in hospital, they’re both back home and recovering. It’s going to be long road to get strong and fit once more, and to recover from the trauma. I thank God they weren’t killed.

And later in December, it was my darling Annie’s second 30th birthday. Hoorah!! We were booked to go to Tenerife, but obvious cancelled that when we heard about Gordon and Libby’s car accident. Instead, we spent the time visiting them and had a wonderful and rainy cycle trip (all of 2 miles I reckon) to Ardington where we enjoyed lunch at The Boar’s Head.

In other news, I have written a piece called Lesley’s Story. It tells the tale of my first wife Lesley and our struggles with bringing up our children in the midst of her deepening and terrible depression and our battles with social services ultimately ending in her suicide back in 1995. I wrote Lesley’s Story for my children so they could fill the numerous gaps in their past. There was so much I protected them from.

In other other news, I was delighted to join a fantastic new group playing electric guitar (and sometimes bass). Whoosya performs blues, skiffle, country, jug band and gospel music. Kind of ‘mercan folk I guess. We played in Wantage marketplace a few times, and at local music festivals Childreyfest and Bunkfest.

www.whoosya.uk

So – we leave behind some really tough times this year, but nevertheless, we wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and love, joy and peace for 2020

Our love and thoughts are with you.

Howard and Annie xx

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6