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Christmas Day 2014
         
         
         
 

December 26th 2014

James

Christmas letter

I wrote at about this time last year (blog of 16th December 2013) about my love of Christmas round-robin letters. If the press is to be believed I am in a minority but I am convinced that this is not the case. Surely some news from friends and relatives whom you rarely see from year to year is better than the annual Christmas card in which has been written nothing more than an unimaginative: To Mary, James and Family...... from Tom, Jane, Millicent and George.

Those fortunate enough to have been sent the Jackson Christmas letter this year will not need to read any further; for those who have not, this is what we sent out:

Dear All,
Happy Christmas.  I was pleased to come across a paper in the journal Social Psychology earlier this year which reported that research had shown that grumpy people make better workers than their cheerful colleagues because they are more focused.  I now have good reason to stay exactly as I am.

Tilly2014 did not have a great beginning as, within two weeks of its start, one of our lovely dogs had to be put down. Tilly, a gorgeous long-haired Parson's Jack Russell Terrier, had a habit of performing somersaults when running.  On closer inspection it became clear that this was a result of increasing uncoordination of her back legs such that they would catch up, and then overtake, her front paws resulting in gymnastic forward rolls.  A diagnosis of spinocerebellar ataxia was made which, fortunately for us all, proved in Tilly to be very slowly progressive. The condition was not all bad; as well as the somersaults the ataxia caused a rather attractive swing to Tilly's back end when trotting along and many were the admiring and envious glances from male and female dogs respectively when she was out for a walk.  Her condition deteriorated quite rapidly in January, however, and for the first time caused her discomfort and so it was with heavy hearts that we took her to the vet where she was very peacefully put to sleep.

Mary and JamesOn a happier note, it was Mary’s and my 25th Wedding anniversary this year; the photograph here that I took on the day is my first (and I expect last) ‘selfie’.  Subtle hints to our sons that some sort of present might be appropriate seemed to have fallen upon deaf ears when the day brought nothing more than the usual card signed by them all.  On Jonathan’s return from University the following weekend, however, we were given a DVD on which was a video of a song that they had composed and then performed together; quite the most wonderful present that they could have given us.  If you want a good laugh you can have a look at it on our Went the Day Well website at http://www.wentthedaywell.co.uk/blog_july_14.html.

JonathanWe have seen too little of Jonathan this year and have all missed his wonderful sense of humour.  Extraordinary as it may seem, he is already in his last year at medical school.  Final examinations next Spring are to be followed by his elective in the South Pacific Cook Islands, which promises to be both fun and educational…. and then he will be released upon the general public when he starts his first foundation year.  One is always warned to avoid hospitals in September when the new medical graduates have been let loose but I have no doubt that any patient who is fortunate enough to come across Jonathan will be in very safe hands – but then I would say that.
We were all very sorry that he was unable to join us on our summer family holiday and it was just the five of us, therefore, who flew to Calgary to pick up a Canadream RV (recreational vehicle) and spent the next twelve days driving through the Banff and Jasper National Parks. We had the most fantastic time: the weather was gorgeous; the scenery extraordinary; the wildlife exciting (although perhaps not as prevalent as we had hoped – except for the squirrels and mosquitoes); and the activities exhilarating.

TomTom, who celebrated his 21st Birthday this year, decided that moving back home last September for his second year reading Biology at UCL was not a great idea – we were not in total disagreement – and he now shares a flat with friends above a strip club by Euston Station.  He has started working part-time in Byron, a London-based hamburger restaurant and, surprisingly, has seemed completely at ease when his parents and siblings arrive unannounced for a meal during one of his shifts.  His apparent pleasure in seeing us has, I am sure, little to do with the large cash tip that he knows is going to be left for him.  He completed another Tough Mudder this year; his suggestion that I accompany him again was met with little enthusiasm and I was pleased when Jonathan stepped into the breach.  He has impressed in other ways: his editing of the 25th Wedding Anniversary video was wonderful; and we found out that his talents stretch to lip-synching!  If you would like to see what I mean go to this YouTube video that he produced https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QemxRxFI6U and scroll through to exactly three minutes from the beginning.

AlastairAlastair is loving Collingham School and is studying AS Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Russian having stormed through his GCSEs. Now aged 16 he has been able to start coxing this year at the Thames Rowing Club in Putney and has been nicknamed the Racing Demon because his benign nature off the water becomes devilish when in the boat.  I have always hoped that one of my sons would share my interest in cryptic crosswords and I am delighted to say that Alastair does; at least I was delighted until he learnt everything that I know about them much too quickly and I now have to hide the newspaper in the morning so that he does not finish the puzzle before I get home.

HarryHarry is flourishing at St Paul’s.  His most recent favourite sport is Fives (a game in which he hits a small hard ball with a gloved hand in what looks like a squash court).  I played this myself on a few occasions when at school and can only remember how very painful and bruised my hands were for several days afterwards.  Harry says that this is not a problem that he has come across to which I reply (to groans) that everything was more difficult in the ‘old days’; the ball was probably harder and we, of course, were not given gloves.  At home he has become a very keen baker and we frequently return home during the week to the lovely smell of some new creation; his very short short-crust pasty is to die for!

On the tandemMary and I are very excited as we have given ourselves an early Christmas present….. of a tandem.  Earlier this year we hired one to complete a sixty mile cross-London Nightride with a group of friends and realised that this is an ideal way to participate in a sport that we both enjoy and can now do together.  My suggestion to the tandem builder - www.thetandemshop.com - that Mary would prefer foot rests rather than pedals fell on deaf ears; our custom-built machine will have arrived by the time you receive this letter so look out for us if you happen to be out and about around Putney at the weekends!

We all wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

 





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