Tuesday, 13 December 2011

"Dear Friends" - whatever happend to round-robin Christmas letters?

Remember when people used to send those photocopied round-robin catch-up letters at Christmas, which began “Dear Friends”, or with your name written into the space they’d thoughtfully left for the purpose of “personalising” the missive? None of my close friends ever sent one, and the sender never lived in London, so the news was always about family members, pets and acquaintances you’d never met – or would ever want to.

I presume email has killed the practice off, which is a pity, because I used to enjoy being outraged by them. And I always got out a kick out of supplying the real story behind the annual burst of propaganda: there was always a slightly hysterical note to them, suggesting some sort of massive cover-up.

Dear Friend(s) and/or Relative(s) and/or Acquaintance(s), 
Seasonal Greetings! And a Merry Winterval! And a Happy New Year!!! (unless you follow a calendrical system which doesn’t recognise our January 1st as the start of another year – no offence meant, I assure you!) 
Well, it’s certainly been a case of “swings and roundabouts” this year! Last year ended on quite a high for us. Our boy, Jack (“Whacko Jacko” to his numerous mates!) had been offered a place at Oxford, dependent on getting seven A*s at A level and winning a Nobel prize. My wife had just been consecrated as the Church of England’s first woman bishop in a ceremony which broke with tradition by not mentioning God or the Royal Family, but which instead apologised for everything the Church had ever done. (Caroline has always been an enormously brave and unconventional woman - I am a very lucky man.
Our daughter, Jacqueline (“Bike” to her friends – well, to everybody, actually) had just been accepted by the world-famous Leni Riefenstahl Academy for Young Blonde Airheads in Switzerland – an establishment catering for girls who find conventional schooling too restrictive (or, to put it another way, who have been caught selling their bodies in order to buy humungous quantities of Class A drugs at their private boarding schools). And I had just been offered the role of Director-General of the BBC (and was desperately trying to extricate myself from my job as Chief Press Officer for the Labour Party). 
And to top off a splendid twelve months, we’d just taken charge of Berserker, a lively Bull Mastiff-Wolf cross, whom we’d all fallen in love with, despite his eating our aging tabby cat, Mr Snufflebum, and demolishing our recently-completed kitchen extension within an hour of being delivered to our door, safely ensconsed in a shark cage. 
As we sat round the table at Christmas with many close friends – Nick (Clegg), Vanessa (Redgrave), Marcus (Brigstocke), Archbishop (Tutu), Polly (Toynbee), Stephen (Fry), Bill (Nighy), Johann (Hari), John and Sally Bercow (she’s such fun!) and Barack (Sidebottom) – passing the bread sauce around and feeling sorry for people who couldn’t be us, little did we know what fate held in store for us in 2011. 
First, Jacko. Well, he didn’t get the Nobel Prize – which surprised us. He then announced that he was dropping out of school to fly to Thailand for a sex-change operation. (Thus at least solving the mystery of Caroline's disappearing underthings!) That didn’t go well, and now he (well, she, I suppose) has to pee out of her left ear. Jacqueline absconded from “Leni’s” after a term and it was six months before we learned that she’d been busily carving out a career for herself as a high-class prostitute in Dubai. The Church of England – in a shamefully retrogressive step – suddenly “found God” and insisted that all ordained bishops publicly declare their belief in the Resurrection and Jesus being the Son of God and all that old codswallop (how medieval!).

Then Berserker ate our neighbours and had to be put down (very unjust, I thought – they were very old and I actually saw a “Vote Conservative” sticker on their window in 2010!). 
And, of course, I was sacked from my BBC job when some silly Tory backbenchers took exception to the revelation that I’d been faxing BBC 1 and BBC 2 schedules and Newsnight and Panorama scripts to Ed Miliband so that he and the Shadow Cabinet could approve them. I defended myself on the grounds that I was simply formalising a system which had been in place for decades, and I was merely trying to eradicate unnecessary errors (e.g. interviewing Eurosceptics and Climate Change Deniers and various assorted maniacs). The decisions to cancel the Queen’s Speech and replace it with a Frankie Boyle routine about Jesus being a mong, and to replace Songs of Praise with the more vibrant, relevant, multi-faith version, Songs of Hate, didn’t go down well. But the final straw was probably the programme which ended our special Thatcher Evening on BBC 2. I personally thought Die, You Evil Bitch! was a very amusing, even affectionate tribute to an admittedly controversial politician, quite brilliantly and even-handedly hosted by Eddie Izzard (in particularly sparkling form – I almost laughed once). I was surprised to learn afterwards that Eddie was a left-winger! 
But the politically biased fools wouldn’t listen and I resigned with my honour intact (albeit after a two-day siege which I think the news media somewhat over-hyped). 
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve landed a job as the EU Broadcasting  Commissioner (the perks are bloody fantastic!), my wife has become the leader of the Church of Satan (whom she does believe in), Jacko’s become a bit of a star following the Channel 4 documentary, The Young Man Who Has to Pee Out of His Ear, and Jacqueline tells us that the MP widely expected to become the next Speaker has proposed to her (apparently he thinks any spouse would be acceptable after Sally Bercow!) 
If you want to write to us and tell you how you and yours have fared this year, don’t bother – we couldn’t care less! 



  1. They are now called Facebook and Twitter and are available every bloody day of the year.

  2. God, you're right! Facebook and Twitter hadn't even occurred to me - mainly because I don't use Twitter and, although I've been on Facebook for several months, I still have no idea what it's actually for: "Hi, Just had a really nice bath!"; "Great news - bowels working smoothly", "I hate Tuesdays - wish it was Saturday!!!"

    I mean - why?????