Christmas 2012

Hello Family and Friends,

The dominant theme of 2012 was “Happy and Glorious”. Nationally this was down to the Queen’s Jubilee, the spectacular success of possibly the finest Olympics ever which was then all but over-shadowed by the stunning Paralympics. Our family also had much happy and glorious to celebrate as well.

Ben proposed to Jo on the 22nd of December 2011 – and Jo accepted. We celebrated their wedding on the 22nd of September in Norwich. Jo was radiant and Ben was animated. I’ve never witnessed such a happy day. I don’t enjoy public speaking, but I did make a speech. They then honeymooned on the island of Santorini. I’d like to thank Tova, Eric and all ten of the clan Kopp for coming over for the festivities. Ben’s at the BBC, dreaming up new history programmes to coproduce with the Discovery Channel whilst Jo has moved to Little, Brown and Company. Amongst the wedding planning they squeezed in a trip to Thailand.

Kate had been working for Hess, as a consultant, for some time. Early in the year they took her on as the Regional Communications Advisor. She loves them. They love her. Houston, Stavanger, Aberdeen and, her favourite, Copenhagen, are all in her itinerary. She’s had holiday jaunts to Belize and Jordan too.

Heather’s big news is that she hasn’t any really big news. The Anna Karenina principle is working just fine for her (“Happy families are all alike…”) Ok, perhaps she has one bit of little news, without any faddy dieting she’s managed to get down to her ideal weight. Basically we just eat much less – and what we do eat is much healthier. She looks terrific. Heather is a project sponsor for a Children’s Mobility project for Guide Dogs. She still comes home from Jigsaw, after her five minute on foot commute, tired but much fulfilled. It is an outstanding school, as Ofsted attests.

This year has been my, John’s, year of change.

Towards the end of 2011 I lost heart at Herbert Smith – the IT of the firm was managing the extraordinary task of doing exceptionally little whilst waiting for a new CIO to be appointed, all as an obvious tsunami of work was coming. I just wasn’t up for a new boss, his first hundred days of trying to impress, a merger – and me being the old codger who had to explain why things were as they were. Enough. I left the firm at the end of March, not quite knowing what was next. April through July I had a few consultancy assignments – all were vaguely along the lines of “the IT needs fixing”. In each case I came to the conclusion that the IT was more the victim and the management more the culprit. I could see a niche there to be exploited, for certain. I could also see that niche, whilst being lucrative, could be contentious, stressful and, above all, repetitive. Enough. I resigned from all of them on the 17th of July. I’ve told myself I’m on sabbatical until the New Year. I have an offer of associate work waiting in the wings. Let’s see what I actually do. I’m not sure myself.

I’ve never been a great fan of surprises, they’re overrated. I don’t mind them but I don’t get excited by them either. I would never dream of a surprise party. Now, my birthday is in November – and this year I turned 60. So, what could be more unexpected than a surprise birthday party for me in June in Ottawa? Kate turned her Type A international organisational and bludgeoning skills to good effect – inviting friends and family from near and far, new and old. I showed up at my sister’s house for a Sunday barbecue and saw a “Happy Birthday 60” sign on their garage. “Bob’s seen 60, Marianne is younger than me – what are they on about?” They were on about me. I stood dumbfounded for quite a few seconds. Thank you all for coming – Steve C, Eric P, Gord Mc, Arvy Z, Beth, Donna, Pam, Ray and Betsy et al. Kate had prepared a testimonial book for me as well – a paean to my ego.

You’ll know that we lost our dogs, Boozer in 2010 and Yoffi in 2011. It took us nearly a year to think of another dog. We made a list, that’s the first thing we do about anything, make a list. Long haired. Nothing potentially slobbery (so not a bull breed). Not a puppy. Good with young children. Kate and Ben both stalked Battersea Dogs Home’s website. On the 12th of July Kate’s Battersea stalking paid off. She found a half Boxer, half Cane Corso, three month old puppy, now renamed by Ben as Elmo. So a short-haired, bull breed puppy – list fail. But he is great with children. We know a bit of his history; his mother couldn’t wean so the breeder’s kids fed the dogs – so Elmo thinks children are wonderful. But then he thinks everyone is wonderful. He’s now seven months old and creeping up on 35 kilos – so only another 11 months or so of growing at a kilogram of food per day. With the thought of having to carry a 50 kilo injured dog a couple of kilometres in Richmond Park, I’ve had a knee operation and am on a get fit campaign – I’ve lost 12 kilos and have risen from the bottom 10% of the population for fitness to the top 10% for my age. Kate’s advice has been a considerable help.

Our summer was rain drenched. But the clouds parted for our local Jubilee street party. It was a great success. We met people, next but one neighbours – and we’ve both been here over a decade.

We went to Canada, triggered by Amelia Purdy-Jackson’s marriage to Darryl. It was good to see family and friends. Facebook has been amazing for bringing university friends back together. We’ve also squeezed in trips to Madrid (and dinner with Emilio and I saw my favourite, the Guernica, in the flesh), Rhodes and Seville. We are doing our bit to help the economies of the Mediterranean.

On the Olympics front, Heather and our friends, Barb and Terry, saw the Equestrian Team Jumping final, Ben and John saw some basketball, Jo and Ben got in some boxing and the Paralympics opening ceremony. Kate initially complained of crowding on the trains – and was then as bewitched as the rest of the country; she saw some swimming.

We’ve had a few visitors. Barb Amos and Anne Scorer stayed. We took in Muriel and Lee Brady for Christina Jackson’s birthday party. We had Jo and Ben’s cat, Yum Yum, to stay with us – we’re not just people friendly. If we’re lucky some of my university friends and cousins might pitch up next year. No pressure.

We’ve seen quite a bit of theatre this year. We are spoilt with two live theatres in walking distance and the theatre district under an hour away. The best thing I saw was London Road, a musical about a serial murderer based on verbatim quotes doesn’t sound promising – it was jaw droppingly good. Worst? Our lemon all-time two hours torn from my life never to return awful award goes to Make Better Please at the Battersea Arts Centre. We can’t even face returning to the venue.

Our best wishes to unwell friends – on both American coasts. We remember family and friends who have died with sadness and fondness.

Our good friends, Barb and Terry Young (and Tuck), returned to the USA in October. We miss their company and the dog walks. We’ll visit them in Houston in February.

To all a good year.

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7 Responses to Christmas 2012

  1. JoAnn says:

    I love reading your letter for the year – thank you for sharing.


  2. Elizabeth Wiggans says:

    As always, I have relished your letter and your news. Mine on its way. Like you I’m all for electronic communications.


  3. Barbara Young says:

    It’s official-’tis Christmastime indeed! Well done, John!


  4. John Anderson says:

    Very good John. Nice to hear things are good with you.


  5. I’m feeling the pressure John…..happy Christmas to all, will raise a toast to our English family on Christmas Day as the Havery family gathers around my dining table…cheers Donna


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

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