Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas 2006

email steve at for new address. Change the 'at' to @

We sneaked off while you weren’t looking. Don’t worry. Post is being redirected. In October Steve was licensed as Associate Vicar in Nailsea. After avoiding the word ‘vicar’ for 22 years since ordination he finally bowed to the inevitable, although observant readers will have noticed that little word ‘Associate’ suggesting that this is no ordinary vicar’s job. Quite.

Still, whilst trying to avoid an ‘apart from that Mrs Lincoln how did you enjoy the play’ sort of letter, there have been other things this year.

Liz celebrated her 50th birthday with a long weekend in the city of romance and dog turd. It turned into a quest for the perfect café, restaurant, vista, gallery, retail experience and walk. The love of her life went with her. It’s nice that pink coat. Sobered up by February.

Steve took a bit of sabbatical leave to consider his position and, surprisingly, announced that he would be going back to full-time parish ministry if anyone would have him. A national hunt to find a church who hadn’t heard of him then began, the vacant parish next door falling at the first.
We waved goodbye to Jon and Carys (pretty much an item these days) that month as they gap-yeared off. Soon after they posted this, ‘The other night we got on a commuter boat just outside China Town just to do some sightseeing and what not. We got off at the final stop and unwittingly arrived there after the last boat back had left. Needless to say we were in the wrong neck of the woods surrounded by legless beggars and fires and itching dogs. Woops. Anyway, we got a tuk-tuk (three wheeled motor trike) back which was pretty good fun if a little scary. We're not dead yet!’

They did Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Bali. However we didn’t slaughter the fatted calf on their return because Carys is vegetarian and in any case we sold it to pay the mortgage having lent Jon his inheritance. Luke 15 comes alive. They returned happy and now live in a lovely flat on the coolest street in Exeter.

By the summer the things to do list hotted up: clean, decorate, fix, re-merchandise, sell and move house, change Cargo area from Thames Valley to South-west (or simply re-route the Thames, again, durr), get to know the people in six churches, obtain car, invest balance of savings from house, furnish 270 square foot conservatory, get used to living in a mock Tudor five bedroomed detached, recall funerals and remember to turn left off the A34 at Newbury.

‘Six wives. You could only manage six wives. Must be all the pies you fat git.’ Now that’s mocking a Tudor.

We had about ten leaving dos. (How do you spell the plural of do? Does? Doos?) The Café Create one was sublime, the church shared lunch was kind and the tears of the landlords of the Somerville Arms and Cask and Bottle were not crocodile. In fact the lovely Paul, landlord of the Somerville, gave us a bottle of fizz and a chocolate cake for our farewell. They still didn’t put him in the Good Pub Guide 2007. No justice.

Liz’s staff in her new area took to her like ducks to shooting galleries but soon got the hang of pleasing her, thus being rewarded and praised. She refuses to tell her boss why things are going so well although the words ‘girl’ and ‘power’ get used a lot. We think she’s about to get an Audi A3 as a replacement company car. She bought Steve a new ironing board cover though.

The photo of Steve’s licensing was nice. It had Bishop Peter, Steve and the three other senior clergy in the Local Ministry Group, Ken, Alastair and Rosey. Trouble is the photo was a bit big for Grapevine, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Bath and Wells so they cropped it to leave just three people, none of whom was Steve. Those who may have remembered him vaguely from the past would have been playing with one of three ideas – he’s either grown six inches taller, had a sex change or been consecrated. Please rank these likelihoods in order in your own time.

We have moved to a land of cyclical function where one domestic appliance must fail at any given time. First the iron fused the lights when we used it. Then the TV locked out the VCR (the TV manual having been lost in the move).

These minor disadvantages are nothing compared to the saga of our new Siemens fridge freezer (or £600 cupboard as we like to call it). Sometimes we wonder if manufacturers make these things happen deliberately to crash our Christmas letter. Three engineer visits concluded that ‘it has no refrigerant in it.’ We tried to cool our food and warmed the globe by accident. Sorry. Not cool at all. The promised replacement delivery was cancelled because someone at the delivery company changed all the December 2006 dates to 2007 in error, a mistake for which they could ‘only apologise.’ We think they can do more than that don’t we children? Oh yes. Mark II has now arrived and shows signs of functioning. Breath not being held.

So we are here, a better coffee stop on the M5 than Gordano services (J19) and only 10 minutes further away. We have begun to get the hang of living here in Nay-ul-zee moi luvvers although so is everyone else as the town has grown from a village since the 1970s. Bath is nice. Clevedon is quaint. It has three good restaurants and the oldest continually running cinema – the Curzon – in the world. Next week Battleship Potemkin is showing for the first time. What do you mean they won’t get that joke, do you think our readers are that thick? Oh you do. Wells is the centre of the Diocese but has no station. The Bish has a nice palace though. Bristol is cool and has bars, gigs, restaurants, retail, waterside, stations, cinemas and us, a lot.

St’s writing career has gone back to being a spare-time interest and the two of us have ridiculously-houred full-time jobs but, get this, we’re OK. It seems to be the right place, people are being welcoming and supportive and we have two guest rooms, three guest sofas and several guest floors. Hell we could do a venture team weekend if you asked nicely enough.

Ben became useful by leasing his Dad a Saab convertible as well as being excellent company at The Futureheads and Dead 60s gigs. (Mrs T accompanied St to see Zero 7 with the outstanding José Gonzales.) Ben is planning to move from Warwick into Birmingham to be nearer work and someone called Rachel.

Liz recently had her wallet stolen which pushed up even further the amount of time we have both spent on hold this year to call centres in places where they speak funny. How memorable are your memorable numbers and passwords? Ours not very.