Merry Christmas everyone. From both me and C. It has been a bit of a year, n’est pas? But we’ve made it this far and not much longer before we get on with a new decade.
merry Christmas from Mum and me (and C)
We’re with Mum and she’s holding up OK. We’re lucky in some ways in that her stroke (2012) has made her a slightly more simple person – and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, just that she has easy needs which her home, a weekly trip to Morrisons, carers a couple of days a week, simple food and ITV3 meet. She has enough money and her health is not bad for an 86 year old. We’re here until tomorrow, so she won’t have had Christmas on her own.
Below is the cat’s letter. It’s in its 12 year, a now family tradition. For those of you who are not with the programme, Tidge, our erstwhile cat, got so fed up with Christmas circulars from everyone telling us all how fabulous everyone was and how much their families had given to charity (etc) she decided to write a slightly more honest appraisal of what we’d been up to. Unfortunately, Tidge is no longer with us so she pens her note from beyond.
Enjoy … and, again, have a relaxing Christmas. Be kind to whoever you are with and remember to eat your sprouts …
driving home for Christmas …
Yo – blooming – ho!
It’s all kicking off up here. His Nibs has his hand on the rheostat and is nudging it northward. ‘If they can’t behave then don’t say I didn’t warn them,’ and I’ve toned that down a touch. Then off he goes and sulks, muttering something along the lines of, ‘I was pretty sure Greta would have found a nerve to touch. Bloody idiots.’
And whilst Rome burns the Ladleys have had another unremarkable year. Where were they during the Fridays for Future marches, and why isn’t Dad supergluing himself to an Easyjet flight to Tenerife? It’s all well and good turning the tap off when they clean their teeth, walking rather than driving to Tescos carrying a bag for life, and recycling plastic that will end up in Indonesian landfills – but it’s hardly Extinction Rebellion. That’s the problem with them. They talk a good talk, but when it comes to actually making a difference, they’re on a plane to Seoul when they should’ve stayed at home, selling their diesel-guzzling campervan and using the proceeds to plant a 1000 trees. I disown them.
But you were expecting an update?
Dad still thinks he’s a writer. Book five, On The Back Foot To Hell, was published in the summer and has sold as many copies as the others – that is, a few. You’d think he’d have learnt. With a fixed smile that could have been stolen from Commissioner Dreyfus, he has gleefully wasted much of the autumn penning book six. In between this he continues to dabble as a leadership consultant, boring schools and now the MoD with his pearls of wisdom. Like his friends, age has begun to shrink his cartilage and he’s had a couple of episodes with his heart (he has got one, bless him), but nothing that has made him look my way. And, no change, running continues to define him – those legs waggling about, knocking over small children as he rushes by. He’ll get arrested one day.
Mum had held the ship steady – as always – although I can report she’s taken to running more consistently but without leaving a liturgy of youngsters crying for their mother to pick them up. And – please – don’t ask her about their trip to Asia. Unless you have a week (and run if she gets out her phone to show you the piccies). Six weeks backpacking from Seoul to Singapore then overland to Hanoi: planes, trains and rickshaws. Bex and Steven joined them for the second half and it will always be a mystery how the children have not turned into alcoholics putting up with the wrinklies. But, they survived. Two trips to Scotland in the van and skiing in Chatel topped off a busy travel year (blame them for the Australian bush fires). But that still gave time for Mum to knit a flock-load of hats, shawls, gloves and other assorted gifts. If you see a baby in a white shawl somewhere in the south of England, put money on that Mum knitted it.
Bex and Steven like Korea. Which is bizarre, noting that they weren’t keen on the paradise that was The Bahamas. The school is good, the students are good, their flat is good (and paid for by the school – yippee!), the travel is good (Hong Kong, China, Phuket, the US, Borneo – I’m sure I’ve missed somewhere), their friends are good, and they’re good. They both have responsibility in the school and, let’s face it, when you’re based somewhere where you can ski in the morning and karaoke in Gangnam at tea time, what’s not to like? They are exactly halfway through an initial three year tenure with Dulwich International, and currently have no firm plans as to what to do next. Mum is already saving her housekeeping to fly to Seoul again in the Spring.
Jen, bless her, continues to be beset with health issues. After a bumper year in 2018 making dog accessories, last year has dragged. She has been diagnosed with ME, which is like long term flu but without the antibiotics to shift it. It has meant that she has stopped work – for now. To compound everything, a random MRI scan found a cyst the size of a tangerine on her pancreas. Now, of course, we all knew up here what was going on but, alas, everyone down below had a fingernail-biting couple of weeks whilst they discovered what was what. The good news is that it wasn’t awful news, if you get my drift. She’s due to go under the knife in January to have it taken out, along with her spleen (who needs a spleen, anyway?). We all hope that the cyst is the underlying cause to some of her other aches and pains and she can get back behind the sewing machine as soon as possible. James, the bearded one, has been a star throughout. It would all have been a different story without him.
Other news? Well Grandad joined us in April. He’s spent his first six months on the golf course with Seve and has won the odd hole. His Nibs will put him to work at some point, but after three years of dementia we all reckon he deserves a bit longer on the greens.
Mum and Dad are with Grandma for Christmas – just the three of them. If they make it through without someone kicking off, it will be a miracle. (Note to self: have a chat with Gabriel – he’s good at those.) Bex and Steven are travelling through southern Trumpland avoiding anyone who looks as if they might be packing. And Jen and James are having a quiet Chrimbo at home, and then with his parents. Everyone’s happy – well, particularly Mum and Dad as they’re driving to Chatel for three weeks once they leave Mum.
And me? Well, the cream has risen to the top. I’m in charge of top-table puddings this year. I’ve every intention of making far too much crème brûlée and then making myself sick on the leftovers. It’s a tough life; live it for the now I say – especially as His Nibs has cut the holiday short. He’s got some ideas for the impeachment process in January. He seems unsure which way to fall. One would rid us all of this tiresome president. The second would pile on the agony and perhaps make you lot think twice before electing an idiot. Although, let’s face it, you Brits are slow learners.
Merry Christmas. I think …