Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas 2008

Hello Chums,

This letter comes with our good wishes. You are reading it because we met once and, if we were to meet again, might still enjoy each other's company. If you believe this to be untrue please let us know, unless you're reading it on the internet in which case you may have found it by accident. We may not know each other. You may be glad about that by the time you reach the third or fourth paragraphs.

Those upon whom we have inflicted our Christmas letter for the last 24 years will be familiar with our failure to communicate anything that roughly equates to news. Every year we get questions such as 'Does this mean you're back in parish ministry then?' Or, 'What are you doing, we don't understand your letter?' Relax. You're not meant to know. News is dull. The letter goes through a process. A first draft is produced and Mrs T removes libel, lies and inappropriate content. Steve then reworks the remaining sentence to produce a second draft at which point Mrs T tells him it is not amusing enough. He then reinserts the libel, lies and inappropriate content using slightly different words. At no point is anything such as news incorporated into the mix.

So, what has been happening? Well this is Nailsea so the short answer is nothing. We occasionally pop up to the High Street as it has traffic lights and they change. Worth a watch. The young people painted an underpass. Watching it dry took up some time. This was part of the Hope 08 project, soon to become Recession 09 then Despair 10. That joke was not original unless originality is forgetting where you found something. Neither was that.

Nailsea F.C.'s promotion to the next tier of the Football League was denied because local residents objected to the idea of the crowd swelling from 35 to 40. Also floodlights might have kept them awake at night as games often go on until 9.10 p.m.

Having written a lot about the amount of Cargo Homestores Liz had opened last year we need to report that she has been running around closing them again this. Next year maybe they will be known as Carg. How's that for 20% off and a saving in signage? For the moment retail life is, as you might guess, a bit toilet but we live in hope that people will always need lasagne dishes and purple cushions. What do you mean you don't have either? In the 'rainfall-good-for-umbrella-marketing' philosophy of life Cargo report that shops near to Woolworth's closing down sales produce outstanding sales. Also Cargo furniture is better quality than MFI, another casualty. Ad over.

Two of Steve's church colleagues left this year. He often scares people away but after only two years here this was a bit quicker than usual. We now have a new curate (how far down the expected training needs list do you imagine he had, 'Teach her to bake'?), a new administrator and are currently seeking a new Rector. Meanwhile Steve did his usual trick of not doing very much yet looking busy enough. The Old Rectory was also deemed unfit for human habitation let alone clergy, so some of our church young adults moved in. Bible studies huddled in duvets are the norm now. If anyone could lend us half a million pounds to buy it and turn it into a new office that would be kind.

The youth group kidnapped Steve and placed their ransom demand on YouTube. It's still there if you want to enjoy the footage. Google 'wehavegotsteve'. They asked for £1000 to be raised for SightSavers International if they were to return him or alternatively the same sum to keep him. Eventually they raised £1600. We have the names of those who didn't want him back.

A poor year on the gig-going front. We enjoyed Seth Lakeman in Salisbury and Don Ross with Andy McKee on Thekla (a moored boat venue at Bristol Harbourside). At Birmingham Symphony Hall the Herbie Hancock Sextet packed 45 minutes of jazz brilliance into a three hour set. Didn't get to any comedy unless you count Cargo's third quarter sales figures or the other two and a quarter hours of Herbie.

Liz enjoyed the Villa becoming watchable and high quality. Steve enjoyed West Brom's promotion season but now has to endure the relegation one. It is the lot of a club who don't spend money they haven't got, and don't resort to kick and rush, to spend years oscillating between Premiership and Championship. Sorry if you glazed over then.

Gozo was good but by now you knew we'd say that. Lyme Regis was a discovery as was eating at Hugh Fearnley-Whatsits' Axminster Canteen. We have never eaten cheese with so much history. The Black Hills in Wales also produced many fine places to eat, drink and walk. The Walnut Tree at Llanddewi Skirrid was pick of the bunch. It was doing good business on a cold, October, Thursday evening.

To prevent another crab apple glut next year Steve pruned the tree a bit. OK, completely. Andy next-door said our front lawn now looked like the aftermath of the Battle of Ypres.

Last few weeks we've both had a horrible winter cold illness thing. Steve had a go at fainting for the first time since school days but didn't really get the hang of it and recovered after sitting outside in the cold for five minutes. Liz tried to show her workforce you could still unpack a delivery when you felt a bit under. That showed 'em. Next day she was phoning shops from her sick bed whilst trying to keep pneumonia at bay. The 2.00 a.m. coughing fit has become a bit of a ritual. At least we get to meet. Since we both have the same thing it's reassuring it can't be man flu. Oh sorry. It appears Steve has man flu; Liz has a serious virus.

Ben and Rachel survived a day of the long knives when 25% of their vehicle leasing workforce were unleased. They now live in a nice house in Quinton (Ben and Rachel, not the redundant workforce) and seem to have two jobs each, Rachel subsidising her salary with bar work, Ben by producing Beacon Radio's Saturday afternoon sports show. He now frequently speaks to 'West Brom legend Ian Hamilton.' Since when did a, quite good, tier 2 or 3 player become a legend? Maybe they meant leg end.

We're off to Japan next year for a couple of weeks from the end of, no burglar chums you don't catch us out that easily. It will be good to understand a bit of what Carys and Jon have been experiencing in their last eighteen months teaching in Tokyo. They are spending this Christmas in Vietnam.

Our friend Peter sent us this card which is actually an original drawing of our mock Tudor pad. Hope it makes up for newslessness. This letter may be delayed a bit as the Christmas address list disappeared in the great August computer crash. Still, Happy Christmas, Epiphany and, if it all goes completely wrong, Easter.

Steve met a girl dressed as a bat today. She was playing the lead in the nativity. Really. Send punchlines.