Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas 2007

Steve and Liz, Our Story, Christmas 2007

Hello there. Thanks for dropping in. Put your feet up. This won’t take long. Course it won’t hurt. How was it for you? We had a ball.

December 17th and it’s not funny enough. Should compete for wit and rejoinder with Lewis Hamilton, some not-quite-ex Spices, the Hamster and all the other rot clogging up Waterstone’s doorway, as long as we introduce a canoe at an early stage. But it’s not happening. Haven’t had enough failures, reunions or near-death experiences.

A year in Nailsea (Provence, pah) for Steve, a few weeks of it with Liz missing in action opening new shops in Yeovil, Hereford and Shrewsbury. As an area manager her region is now half of England. The new Audi A3 (see last year) did 10,000 miles and was replaced with another which now has 25,000 on its clock. One of Liz’s colleagues left, sadly and unexpectedly. Mrs Sensitive managed to get into her response alarmingly early, ‘Can I have his car; it’s got aircon?’ First sentence.

We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary (pearl? grit? oxygen?) with a week in a cottage in Pembrokeshire accompanied by creatures who also resided there and lived off pot pourri which may be Welsh for mouse food. Found Cwtch in St David’s, a restaurant with a nicer menu than pronunciation.

Steve took a few steps nearer upsetting a whole diocese by using the phrase ‘stick your hand up a puppet’ in an email to, yes, the whole diocese. This double entendre, so he is told, is insensitive in a place where priests are known to have fiddled with more than the books. He didn’t even think it was an entendre.

Don’t break your dentures in Gozo. Cost £6 to mend them there and £680 to repair them here when they broke again. Still, to attempt the worst joke we have ever put in a Christmas letter, Steve now has a fixed grin.

We waved goodbye to Jon and Carys (three years, three waves), this time in the direction of Japan where they are teaching English and becoming familiar with the Richter Scale. They may stay but not as teachers. Just discovered they’re going to South Korea for Christmas. They’re not on a gap decade. Ben’s contribution to our letter is now edited down to three words. Rachel. She nice.

Five hair stylists have left the country after dealing with one or both of our barnets once or twice. Liz is going to ask for a crop next time. No-one has yet managed to carry out her instructions with any accuracy so things can’t get worse.

Radiohead got an average of £2 per album for their ‘pay what you want’ download offer. Which is more than their royalties on a full-price CD. Using that principle (if you can use a principle before it has been established) Steve bought up the back copies of his now remaindered book on youth work and if he gets £1 a copy he gets 5p more than the royalties on the full-price book. Yours for £2.

Maps, Jose Gonzales, Faithless, Marcus Brigstocke, Bill Bailey, Ross Noble and the live recording of I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue figured on an excellent live gigs list this year although our carbon footprint in getting to places was massive. Big up to our comedy gig-going compatriots the Owens for discovering a gem of a restaurant in Newport, a town that is basically fenced off at the moment so even if you can see where you want to go you can’t get there. It has a millennium footbridge which, apparently, worked first time. The big attraction of Newport? Glad you asked. It’s half-way between the Owens and the Tilleys, as Cheltenham used to be. It’s £5.10 to get into Wales but free to get out, unless you go via Hereford and Shrewsbury.

Liz had her wallet stolen again but as it was so recently after the last time she knew what to do. Steve’s suit jacket still on the drying rack with damp shoulders.

Various joys of our new part of the world include the Barn at Wraxall, The Hatchet Inn in Bristol, Bordeaux Quay bar and bistro (9.5 out of 10 in The Guardian), Redwood Country Club and Thekla Social (a live music venue on a boat). One of the gigs was at the University of Bristol Students’ Union where we felt, OK we admit it, just a tad old. Two over fifties can eat for the price of one at a pub down the road in Backwell but we both have to produce ID first. Liz won’t go anyway.

Christian Ministry opportunities have included Film Club Extra, running Quiet Days at home and Alpha in the pub which, long-suffering readers will agree, means Steve has turned sitting with the phone and computer switched off, watching movies and drinking beer into work. Admit it, you’d have done it if you had the nerve.

He also helped launch an afternoon, all-age Christian gathering called 3.08 at Kingshill. ‘We need everyone to remember what time it starts,’ said someone. So we decided to start at eight minutes past three. No-one has been late yet. Genius.

Leamington FC gained another promotion and are top of the next rung up. Premiership in seven now. Nailsea United are top of the, now let’s try and remember, ah yes, ‘Somerset County League, Premier Division,’ which is tier 11 in the league pyramid. Villa started doing well and in the topsy-turvy world of being a Baggie it is promotion we are chasing rather than relegation this particular year. As Mark Bright kindly reminded his radio listeners, we have ‘...just won three, back-to-back.’

The year in proverb form:

It’s a long way to Morley Rectory.
A holiday becomes work when called a retreat.
A gym doesn’t get less knackering by being called a country club.
Insensitivity is the tax you pay on wit.
You’re not early for work if your Regional Manager drove 125 miles further than you and beat you by an hour.
You don’t need an outdoor pool in September unless you flew to get there.
There are two 5.30s in a day, neither much good.

Anyway always consider, and this may be the proverb of the year, what might be at the bottom of the kitchen bin if you really need to stick your hand right in there. You may have to get that stuff out of your nails before administering communion.

So as Steve drives off down the road from his five bedroom detached in his sporty convertible with the fittest 50 something woman in the world by his side to do a bit more of a job he loves, he leaves you with just one thought: ‘Where did it all go wrong?’ Which, strangely, is also the woman’s parting thought.

Steve and Liz, Our Story is now reduced to £1.99 ONO