Christmas 2011

I’ve procrastinated long enough. All year I collect notes ready for our annual letter. Come the end of November I start to consider finally writing the letter. I have the ingredients, time to cook. Except I don’t. I stall and flap about, finding low ranking items on my to do list suddenly assuming geopolitical import. Thank goodness for my self-imposed letter writing discipline; without it my sock drawer would never be reviewed any deeper than its top layer. Of course it’s no longer a letter, it’s a blog post. The letter may be virtual, but the socks are still real. (I’ve just rearranged the yoghurt in the refrigerator.)

Kate and Ben have joined the ranks of the indebted middle class. Ben and Jo are in a lovely two up, two down terraced cottage in the borders of Walthamstow village which they are allowed to share with Yum-Yum, their modestly deranged cat. Kate too lives in the Ws, this one being a sunbathed flat in Wandsworth which she is allowed to share with Miranda, her modestly deranged life long friend. (I’ve started iPlayer to listen to Episode 3 of Series 56 of “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue”.)

Heather loves her job at Jigsaw. The administration is tedious but the fulfillment of just one word from one of her children can keep her sustained for weeks. Kate has loved working at Hess as a consultant via Regester Larkin. She’s been to Copenhagen, Stavanger and Houston, with Kuala Lumpur in the offing. Ben is now a Producer with the BBC, developing new ideas for history programmes. I’m still at Herbert Smith, a firm in the midst of many a change. They say with change comes opportunity – and that may well be true. (I’ve just fetched a cold Becks from the tidied fridge.)

Various milestones came and went. Kate turned 30 (thank you, Ray and Betsy, for coming over). We had the doors and railings of the house painted Moroccan blue, in honour of our Marrakech holiday with Barb and Terry. Ben and Jo made their final trip to Glastonbury, ostensibly. And Yoffi, our Golden Retriever, died; suddenly we had neither children nor animals in the house for the first time since 1976. I’d like to thank Chrissie Jackson for taking us on his commemorative walk in Richmond Park. Will we get another dog – probably, but not until I retire. (Roger Stearn came by, saving me from another paragraph, while we had a cuppa.)

Heather has taken up riding again, thanks to an enticing birthday present from Barb Young. Every couple of weeks she has a hack around Richmond Park. She kitted herself out at that world-famous equestrian outfitter, Tesco of Osterley Park, I kid you not. (Just looked up Lufthansa carry-on luggage restrictions.)

I’ve developed an interest (note, not talent, interest) in street photography. I’m looking for quirky, interesting and insightful photographs. I’ve not found any yet, but I’m still trying. I tried a brief course in the summer and hope to give it more time and energy in 2012. (Sent email to Barb thanking her for a panettone.)

Our other trips, aside from Marrackech, included Pittsburgh (to see the Wollsteins), Washington (to tour a city I’d often been to on business), New York (a city Kate was rightly convinced I should like – and to catch Gabriella Must’s Bat Mitzvah) and Valencia (to see the city…and Linda and George Arthur). Valencia is right up there with Florence and Vienna as my new favourite city. Heather spent a weekend in Copenhagen with Kate and Barb. We’ve been to Hamburg to see Heather’s sister and family. Next year, who knows, but we’re definitely attending Amelia Purdy’s Toronto wedding. I’d like to try Sicily. Heather has talked of Vietnam. (Facebook break.)

Regular readers tell me they enjoy reading what distractions we’ve been to. Really? Ok, here goes. We’ve enjoyed: Sleeping Beauty (long live Panto!), Spurs v Bolton, Raptors v Devils at The O2, Maureen Lipmann, Strawberry Hill House (a cheerful Gothic house), Frisky and Mannish at the Udderbelly, Romeo and Juliet thanks to ComXo, Blondie at Kew Music, Kew Open Evening, Fulham v Villa on opening day, Three Days in May at Richmond Theatre,  How to be Happy at the Orange Tree (perhaps the best play of our year), AccompliceDiscover Dogs and the Royal British Legion Poppy Seed tea. On the other hand, we struggled with Yes, Prime Minister, Keeler and The Kitchen. (Just watched Blondie and Frisky and Mannish on Youtube.)

Of course we’ve enjoyed some good meals and good company with them: Dinner, a no menu restaurant, Drakes and sorties with the trusty tastecard – the bargains make us more adventurous. (Offered to help prepare dinner, rejected.)

My most unusual anecdote was to receive an invitation to dinner on behalf of the team I work with at Herbert Smith from Tom Mendoza. It says a lot about the team that they were invited out by a bona fide billionaire, to listen to their experiences. (Folded laundry.)

After the riots and the Cameron veto (or was he rejected?) next year is Olympics year. I didn’t get any tickets for basketball at either the Olympics or Paralympics. Heather, however, has tickets for the finals of the Equestrian Jumping. I’ll just have to content myself with watching from home, near the fridge, missing the joy of the Central Line. (Read text from Kate, email from Ben.)

A handful of our friends are unwell. We wish them all the very best always, but particularly at this time of year. Our thoughts are with you.

All the best, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Seasons Greetings,

Heather and John

(Now off to spellcheck before posting publicly. Will get up at 2am to correct something embarrassingly poorly written.)

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1 Response to Christmas 2011

  1. Pingback: Older Christmas letters, 1993 onwards | Gra Machree

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