Some of the most unexpected tingles of pleasure at this festive time are provided by those touching family round-up missives that occasionally drop out of Christmas cards. You know the ones: photocopied bits of A4 offering saccharine sweet glimpses into the cosy world of friends we don’t see (for some reason) very often. I love those scanned photos of grinning children on ski slopes; chuckle along with middle class ho-ho-ho-ing about busy lives; and gently scold myself at reminders to those who’ve forgotten that the family has moved (but not to worry because mail is still being forwarded from the old address). Sometimes, there’s barely a hint of self-satisfied smugness dripping from the pages, which might otherwise dampen my (clearly anticipated) eagerness to devour the updates. I was worried that facebooking might have dealt the traditional round robin fatal blow. Obviously not.
So I now see that this blog provides a perfect platform to spread some Atkinson love at a time when our thoughts turn to friends and family.
There’s so much to say too. Time has simply flown. I honestly cannot believe I’m sitting here penning a few lines about our wonderful year when it literally seems like only yesterday that we were literally gathered round our little Christmas tree, adorned in chunky festive knitwear, literally singing carols and eating mince pies.
Trinny, our ginger Siamese was there with us too. We miss her loads. That perhaps wasn’t the best start to the New Year. At least those horrible people at Saigon Garden were finally prosecuted.
My first New Year greeting was a lovely text message from Stan James (as usual), “Happy New Year, Dave. We are best odds about Can’t Buy Time in today’s Victor Chandler Chase from Cheltenham”. Sweet.
The year has seen the children really progress academically. The Pupil Referral Unit has brought out the best of them and they stand a good chance of rejoining mainstream education next year. Daughter no. 1’s pyromania is down to the odd spark now and Daughter no 2’s shoplifting is so sporadic as to go virtually unnoticed. We are pleased to see that they both have such a healthy extra curricular appetite. Sometimes we wave to them and their friends in the bus shelter as we get the taxi over to the pub.
We’ve done loads to the house. My Racing Post room is coming along nicely, now that I’ve got my 62” wall mounted plasma screen, superfast broadband connection and bank of macbook laptops and smart phones. The children don’t seem to mind sharing a bedroom again. I’ve had a couple of the betting accounts closed down and have had to e-bay Mrs A’s Irish silver heirlooms. But I’m sure it’s a temporary glitch: another big winner is just around the corner, I can feel it in my water.
We always say that doing those lovely little things across the generations is what makes a wholesome family: simple picnics, walks by the river and group visits to the tattoo parlour. We’ve been able to do much more of this since Granny’s probation order came through.
Mrs A’s burgeoning music business empire keeps us all busy, what with the constant stream of demanding rockstars needing a piece of her. Manfred Mann’s rythmn guitarist called from a phone box only the other day, cross that the Greatest Hits CD in the bargain basement basket at Lidl. Her high-octane criss-crossing of the country and pressurised contract wheeler-dealing only occasionally cracks the air of calm reassurance. But it’s usually OK: we’ve found a great recreational drug supplier dealing from a barge on the Grand Union Canal. Mind you, the shocking shortage of parking in our pretty, but narrow and hilly, Victorian street means the tanker supplying red wine direct from Bulgaria only rarely finds a berth right outside the front door. Only a minor inconvenience, though.
So, all in all, a great year!
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers.