Posted by: tabliope | December 10, 2008

Well whoopee feckin’ do….

Because my  mother-in-law is a guest at the moment I'm unable to indulge in my periodic bouts of 'for fuck's sake' when confronted by something that displeases me, although when we received a xmas card with one of those boast lists masquerading as a catch-up letter I was sorely tempted.  In fact, the letter was so bad that I suspected that my MIL was sorry that she was genetically incapable of saying FFS and instead did one of those little laughs that she does when someone in the family tries to get above themselves.   However, it provided great entertainment chez Fanny as we took turns in reading aloud the show-off list the nice letter.

Johnny's favourite bit was only getting 6A* at GCSE because he hadn't revised enough but I felt that real winner was 'trying to fit in some exercise' which included 2 skiing trips and running the London Marathon.  We also spent more time than is strictly necessary wondering what horrendous sins the teenage son had committed because his only inclusion was that he is a true teenager and that his voice has broken.  Presumably not in the choir nor spending his time revising? 

We last saw these people when the kid with revision problems was at nursery school. 

My final thoughts on this are that if you feel the need to write a mailshot to people you can't be bothered to get in touch with at any other time, then you may want to consider your writing style, specifically how difficult it can be to use irony effectively.  It sails a bit close to smug sometimes.  Of course, maybe that's exactly what you're striving for so go right ahead and let people who don't care know that you would really have loved to take some high-profile role on the board of some high-profile British Broadcasting Corporation but this would have meant you dropping the advisory role.   No, I have no idea either.

And anyone who wants to suggest that I'm only jealous because my marketing brochure would be something along the lines of 'Fanny's personal best this year was getting up before dusk' may be absolutely correct.



  1. A ‘true’ teenager?  What the devil does that mean, anyway?
    Whenever I get such a letter, it seems that the sender’s year is full of endless walking, running, swimming.  Did you travel somewhere?  That’s nice.  But what did you DO there?  They never tell me.
    These letters never discuss a fabulous book or painting they discovered that year.  Maybe they didn’t find one – but if they did, I’m really pissed off that they kept it from me.

  2. I feel bad now. I will try and make sure our Christmas letter doesn’t come off as smug. But perhaps you could cut them a little bit of slack, and maybe pride is coming off as smug without them intending it to be so. My parents have always written catch up letters – mainly because their friends are scattered all over the world and so they don’t have the opportunity to see them regularly. Their letters were always full of pride of what we, as their offspring had achieved.
    Aubrey – I don’t live in a world where I “discover a fabulous book or painting”, and even if I did, I doubt I’d write about it in my Christmas letter because it’s not really the sort of thing that would interest my friends!

  3. We are currently the recipients of catch-up letters from just two of our acquaintances – I’d say friends, but if they were then we’d be in touch more frequently and more personally.  I think one of the things about Christmas cards, and the reason why we still send them to people who have long ago dropped off our social radar, is that it’s nice to get a card and you open it and you think ‘oh, I wonder how they’re doing’, but when you’re told about pony this and sailing that and rosette in the dogshow the other, my overriding response is, “Am I bovvered though?”
    I like Aubrey’s Christmas Catch-up Idea (it already has official status).  I think I would be far more interested to hear about someone’s book of the year, film of the year, restaurant/recipie of the year etc.  You’re then at liberty to try them and if you like them, or even if you don’t, then you’ve made more of a connection than just hearing about gymkhanas and piano grade 8.

  4. Aubrey – I really enjoyed ‘A history of the world in 6 glasses’ Tom Standage.RG – my real friends write to me or email me through the year and tell me about the things their children do that make them proud.  The other thing I need to add here is that I should take note of my own advice about how irony can often fall flat.Jando: I agree.  Absolutely.

  5. I love/hate those smug letters. I like Aubrey’s idea too. Aubrey: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami.

  6. “Not only did Kate manage to get up before dusk, but on at least two occasions, she even managed to get dressed”
    Aubrey: I hardly bought any music this year, but Dig! Lazarus, Dig! by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds was my favourite.

  7. show off!

  8. I bloody hate those round-robins – and did way back when, when I was an army brat kid as well as later, when I worked for the Foreign Office ….

  9. Would Jonathan Ross and John Lydon be examples of false teenagers?

  10. Hmmm I failed at discovering anything more significant this year than rediscovering my love of dance music.Eric Prydz ‘Greatest Pjanoo vs Greatest Day*’. This mix should not work but it so does.(*Yes the Take That song.)

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