Thursday, January 12, 2012

Return to sender, address unknown

Every December Man of the House receives a Christmas letter from an old friend he’s not spoken to since way back in the last century. This friend, who I’ll call Smug, and her husband Smugger – aren’t they cute with their matching names in their cosy nook! – writes the sort of round robin I thought journalist Simon Hoggart had satirised into extinction. But clearly not, so it gives me great cheer to report – verbatim - ‘Daughter continues with piano (grade 4) and viola (grade 5). She has founded a string quartet, which gave an exciting debut performance at the school concert, with a piece arranged by Daughter.’ As I read this out to Man of the House, who always acts as if the letter is my fault, Thing Two rushed in, yelled, ‘Fleabag Monkeyface is on!’ and rushed out again. He was wearing just pants and a Santa hat. Sighing, I read that Daughter had sung with her school choir at both Disneyland and Chartres Cathedral. ‘Quite a contrast!’ noted Smug, though whether he meant between the two venues or between Daughter and Thing Two who can say? Simon Hoggart says that braggy letters tend to gloss over the dumkopf child of the family, but you can easily work out the meaning of ‘lively’ and ‘creative.’ Alas, the other child in the Smuggery was ‘very successful in his 11+ exam’ (the family has relocated to the 1970s so the kids can take the 11+) and he ‘relishes playing rugby… passed grade 3 cornet and piano… won the School French conversation… likes to hack most weekends’ (on a horse or into celebrities’ phones? No idea).

I truly can’t work out if I hate these people or wish I was them. This issue remains unresolved, pending my next therapy session. In the meantime here’s my reply.
Dear Smuggies,
Sorry this is unseasonally late but that’s the kind of slacker household I’m barely holding together here!!! What a great year! The kids got to really high levels not only on Moshi Monsters but also Club Penguin! Thing One is fully engaged in the music scene, having almost learned to cover up the holes on the recorder, and Thing Two is speaking French; his cousin’s taught him to swear like un matelot! They relish experimenting with the Freeview box and it’s now stuck on Men & Motors, what an eye-opener! They are such a pleasure to take to restaurants. Thing Two astonished me recently by ordering a ham pizza instead of just cheese, a true gourmand!! I must briefly blow my own trumpet and announce that I notched up 351 washes in my Hotpoint washer-drier! I’m aiming for 366 washes this year, well we all have to have Olympic goals!! I see from your letter that you’re planning to see in the New Year with a visit to the RSC!! We are similarly going to the UGC, to see Alvin & The Chipmunks III – Chipwrecked!!
Best wishes for 2012,
Conflicted & Bemused

Beth Miller, 4th January. Published in and Viva Lewes handbook February 20

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