Archive for the ‘letters’ Category

Dear Bear

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Dear Bear/Mr Grylls (delete as you consider appropriate)

The 18th Lincoln (Bailgate) Scout Group is celebrating its 90th anniversary next year on the 12th and 13th of December. It was either rather a long delivery or it happened exactly on the stroke of midnight and they couldn’t make their mind up which day it actually was (delete as you consider appropriate).

Seeing as you are now our Chief Scout/intrepid adventurer/all round good guy (delete etc…) we would be thrilled if you could come along to help us celebrate/unveil plaque/launch new canoe (etc). The latter is because we are Sea Scouts here at Bailgate 18th. Dunno if you ever had any nautical adventures?!

I don’t actually know how we will be celebrating at this time because I think I might have missed that particular committee meeting but I’m sure it will be good. Probably light a campfire and sing songs and so on. You know the form.

So if you could come then that would be great. That weekend is just after my own birthday so perhaps we could make it a double celebration. I’m not ninety though! If you can’t make it that weekend then some other time in 2010 would also be great. We will fit around you so no excuses really eh? 🙂 Just let us know when.

Yours Sincerely

Tref (age 47 1/2 )

Through the office window – the red van

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

the red van

The red van’s been parked there for as long as I can remember. It’s brand new – in the ‘never-been-used’ sense. The once-deep-red colour has faded over the years and is now approaching a dirty pink. All this time, through wind and rain, and the odd blizzard, the red van’s been left unattended. It’s supposed to be the emergency vehicle and has a load of medical equipment in it. At least, so I’m told. I’m sure the battery must be dead by now. Is anyone emergency testing the emergency vehicle ??

Through the Office Window III

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

There are eight lovely little blackbirds enjoying themselves in the sun on my small patch of meadow. It’s a very safe place for them. No one goes out there, and the landscape contractors are not due back for a while. They fly off every now and then towards the trees in the car park. They’re great, big trees; eleven of them, in a strip of grass left untarmacked. Someone once told me that the trees represent the eleven players of a cricket team, and that at one time the factory car park was the first cricket pitch in Wales. I think that’ll be a factory myth. A cursory google proves nothing. Looking through the trees I can see there’s not much activity across the road in the SPAR distribution centre; it’s all quiet. It’s quiet here too as most people have been bussed up to London for a company Barbeque to celebrate its centenary. So I’m having a quiet afternoon watching life go by outside. And I was right about the buttercups, they’re all starting to emerge again.

Through the Office Window II

Monday, June 1st, 2009

It’s a beautiful, still, sunny day outside. The hot air is trying to move the branches of the trees, but without much success. It’s the sort of day that when you’re indoors you want to be outside in the sun, and when you’re outside, you want to be indoors because it’s too hot.

The landscape contractors are back, and have obligingly parked their white van by the ‘Contractors Parking’ sign. There’s a man driving a lawn mower around my patch of meadow. He’s sporting a yellow, sleeve-less, high-viz top. I feel like asking him whether he’s got any suntan lotion on. We used to make it here, and there’s plenty in the staff shop. But I won’t disturb him. He doesn’t look particularly friendly. The daisies and the buttercups are gone, which is a shame as I was enjoying them. But they’ll be back very soon – the irrepressible force of nature will keep the contractors in employment all summer.

There’s a growing mound of freshly-mown grass in the back of the van. There are probably thousands of landscape contractors all around the country, right now, contributing to the nation’s freshly-mown grass mountain. Where does it all go ?

Dear Rhod

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008


30th November 2002.

Dear Rhod,


Happy birthday old boy.  Somehow though “Oh no five oh!” doesn’t sound as bad as “Oh no four oh!”.  Perhaps it’s because when you hit forty you are finally leaving youth behind.  Being in your thirties is only one step away from being twenty nine so forty is really a watershed.


So what about fifty then?  Does it feel as if it is the slippery slope to old age?  Have you started to think of retirement?  You could do quite legitimately now you know?  Will your cricketing be creakier?  Will bowling be a more sedate underarm “end” or two?  At least they wear whites for both types of bowling.


There are likely to be financial benefits.  You may become eligible to go on SAGA holidays.  It would be worth checking out wouldn’t it? Of course taking the kids along might prove to be a problem but what the heck.  Also I’m sure some insurances might be cheaper because you are officially recognised to have arrived a sensible and low risk age.  Medical insurance will probably go up but being in the trade I’m sure you don’t need to bother.  There will always be a mate somewhere who’ll fix you up with a hip replacement,  set of teeth or zimmer frame.


Did you realise that you can now buy all those labour saving gardening tools that stop you having to bend down.  No-one will laugh at you for buying that long handled weeding tool.  In fact you will probably get a rush of attractive young shop assistants eager to help you out and maybe even carry things to the car for you. (hmm – in B&Q, perhaps not).


At fifty is is also quite possible to be seen as a patriarchal figure.  In your forties you are too young.  This is impressive Rhod.  The rock around which the community is built.  Wragby will have a very strong pull knowing as you do that that township needs your steady hand and guiding influence. We are not just talking medical matters here.  The colour scheme for the new village hall. The siting of the next park bench.  It must be hugely satisfying to be in a position that allows you to have so much influence to the good.  It fits in very well with your vocation. Respect.


I only hope that you will be able to resist the pull and stay with us here in lincoln.  There again the choice is yours and I’m sure that you will do whatever is right.


The next big one will be your sixtieth!  Gosh!!


Best Wishes,


Dear Eleanor

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008


28th December 2006.


My Dear Eleanor,

Recognising that we have been invited to your 50th birthday bash cum memorial for Jim I decided to put some thought into a present that would be suitable for the occasion.  This being in reality two occasions of such diverse purposes occurring on the same day has given me some reasons to ponder on what to do. 


Firstly, the Jim remembrance.  Although I did not really know Jim other than through a casual acquaintance with both of you together at the occasional social event I could see that he was a man of character and integrity and worthy of your love and attention.  After Mervyn passed away Anne and I were naturally happy that you had found someone else to spend your life with and we were happy to come to the wedding celebration (even though we didn’t make the A list which of course we both understand and accept J – we were grateful to be on any list J). Honest.


When we heard the news of Jim’s death our hearts went out to you and I was sorry not to be able to make it to his funeral although I was pleased that Anne was able to represent the Davies family.


I can only say that we know that you are a naturally strong person and you will pull through.  This might not be much consolation to you but I can add that if there is anything was can ever do to help you I hope that you will feel able to call on us as friends to pitch in. 


There are a few caveats to this generous offer.  I’m not actually prepared to come and do any gardening or housework or any other menial type manual labour unless it is an emergency situation. What I am saying here is that it has to be important. We will have to make a call at the time as to whether the situation fits this definition.  Clearly you might be emotionally unstable at the time and unable to make a good call in this respect so I hope that downstream you will have recovered your faculties sufficiently enough to recognise and accept our decision with hindsight. 


Hopefully you might in any case have had the good sense to retain the services of a gardener or other such handyman upon who you should be able to call under such (again hopefully extremely unlikely) circumstances.  If you haven’t already thought of it take my advice and start looking now kid.  Probably the Newark Advertiser and your local Post Office are your best bets assuming the latter will still be open after the recent closure announcements (fingers crossed eh?).


Now the fact is that a present in memoriam of Jim probably isn’t appropriate for this occasion.  I’m sure that in any case this would have already been taken care of at the funeral, as I recall in the form of a donation to his favourite charity.


So the next question is what to get Eleanor for her 50th? If anything?  Hmm!


I’ve given this some thought.  What do you get the woman who has nearly everything?  A few suggestions spring to mind:


Lifetime membership of the Women’s Institute.

You might not of course like this idea.  Baking cakes and entering flower display competitions might not be your idea of a good time. Just a word of two of advice before you turn this idea down. Don’t write it off before you have tried it love.  You shouldn’t prejudge an activity without having experienced it.  After all millions of middle aged (whoops!) women can’t be wrong. Also they might well get involved in other activities too: dry-stone wall repairing, lesbian sex and tea blending spring to mind.  Everything is possible. Actually I might think about joining it myself if there is lesbian sex involved.  I don’t suppose they can object in this modern age of equal rights.  If women are allowed to join the Carlton Club or the Castle Hill Club . . .


Now on the off-chance that there isn’t a WI lodge (arrangement, gossip, school, cardre, platoon, shoal – whatever is the collective noun for a gathering of WIs) in your area we need to think of some suitable alternatives.


Difficult this one. I realise that your place is probably already well stocked with the good things in life – Beluga caviar, vintage Dom Perignon, pork scratchings. So something else along these lines would probably have been greeted by you with some degree of silent contempt.  I know you are too much of a lady to let your real feelings be seen by us Lincoln provincials.


So I thought about:

A pair of Wimbledon centre court debentures

Seriously looked into this one I have to tell you. I’m sure that you will believe me when I say that we tried very hard here. Unfortunately I have had to accept defeat having tried every avenue open to us. We tried the Lincolnshire Echo, the Chronicle, the Target. We looked in the St Peter in Eastgate newsletter, Ferrago (the William Farr school magazine – we were sure that there would always be a parent trying to offload unwanted tickets there) and countless other local sources of news and information – even the Bailgate News.


Now I have to confess we didn’t put a card in the Post Office in the Bail but if I tell you that following my earlier remark about Post Office closures we weren’t sure that this establishment would be open long enough for the advertisement to take effect I am sure that you will understand.


Anyway the search for a pair of Wimbledon debentures drew a blank – bummer.


What next then eh? The complete Donny Osmond Collection?  David Cassidy? Nah.  Cliff Richard !!!?


I have to confess that at this time I was struggling, Eleanor. Looking for big time inspiration. I discussed with Anne whether we should call upon the services of the experts – maybe Trinny and Suzannah but Anne said that their tastes were probably too frumpy for you.  Then I said why don’t we get Charlie Dymmock to come and remodel your garden. Anne said I had only made that suggestion because CD didn’t wear a bra and that I wanted to see the outline of her nipples  and that in any case as far as she was aware you were quite happy with your garden because Jim had played a big part in it’s current design so that well and truly put the kybosh on that idea.


Oh blooming heck how difficult can it be?!!!


I said how about paying for you to go on a QE2 type singles cruise and Anne said if I could afford to buy you something like that I could bloody well take her on a cruise so I had to confess that actually I couldn’t really afford it and that I was really only talking big so I had to climb down from that one – sorry. Ahem.


Right.  Well then. Yeees.




Actually at this time I’d like to apologise for using such strong language.  “Blooming heck” is really an inappropriate phrase for this letter – oh dear there I go repeating it. Sorry. I am trying to present a serious tone here.  After all it is your 50th birthday.  After all how serious can that be? I mean to say fifty?  I hope you don’t mind me saying that in such loud font.  I’m not sure how familiar you are with font types but  the sentence with “fifty?” in it is in 18 point chiller.  The rest of the letter is in 12 point DIN Regular.  The only reason for that particular font is that it is our corporate style and my “Word” font is set by the IT guy at work in collaboration with our marketing manager. Sorry I’m boring you here.


I chose chiller font because I thought it represented a suitably horrified response to actually being 50 years old. There I go again! This is of course complete rubbish.  After all I’m nearly fifty myself.  Well, 45 actually but it’s not far off is it in the great scheme of things eh? Eh? A mere week is a long time in politics so how long is five years eh? Thinking about it if I were a politician five years would therefore seem an absolute age so it is a good idea that neither you nor I are politicians, as far as I know. As far as I am concerned the weeks fly by! By the way sorry if you are thinking of running for Parliament or some similar august body – Newark Town Council, Sutton on Trent Parochial Church Council etc etc. I know that although I saw you doing an excellent meet and greet job at the museum in Lincoln you might well be looking for something else to do with your time.  WI?… no no no.


I also need to apologise for apologising all the time.  I know that our friendship is more solid that this. You understand I’m sure that it only comes out of frustration of not being able to satisfy you.  There I go again – innuendo now. Shut up Tref.


I’m now at a complete loss for words (please scroll down)





































Right I’m back.  Tref here again. Hope that the gap was suitably representative of being lost for words.  Anyway it’s all you’re getting.


So fact is it doesn’t look as if we are converging on a present idea here.  It could be that we just give up and concentrating on having a good time at your party. I’m sure Anne will still be racking her brains (fair play to her) but frankly once I’ve stopped thinking that’s it.  It’s a bit like Russian mobilisation except the other way round.  If you don’t quite understand here I fully understand. I’m not bragging. What I mean is that I always understood anyway but I understand if you don’t understand.  It’s a bit like describing a cricket match, when they are out they are in, but I really don’t want to get dragged into that discussion – see me later if you do. That could be an idea for a present – how would you like a year’s membership at Notts County Cricket Club?


The Russian mobilisation bit meant that when the Russian army was mobilised into action they could not stop whereas once I have stopped thinking I can’t start up again. Never mind. It sounded good in my O’ level history exam.


If Elliot would like the year’s membership let me know – Tom is a member. It’s only £15 for a year for a junior.  Not that I want to cheapen the 50th birthday present. Anyway at the moment we still haven’t decided what to get you so £15 could represent a significant upside J.


I guess it doesn’t do any harm at some stage to reflect on what being fifty must be all about. Mind you I have to rely on hearsay here because obviously as previously discussed I can’t base it on personal experience.


I did ask my mother in law Rene who was laying the table around me as I was typing this out but all she could say was “nothing”. So there is a viewpoint that life becomes a nothingness, a great void once you reach fifty. Rene probably didn’t mean her comment to be interpreted in this way.  She actually meant that it made no difference to her moving up from 49 to 50, or if I can put it more dramatically, from her forties to her fifties.


There are plenty of examples of people who have lead full and enriched lifestyles once they reach the half century – the WI is full of them. Apparently.


Charlie Chaplin had a baby when he was 82 years old for example. At least we are told it was his baby. In fact I am being very unfair here.  I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that it was not his baby. I’ve not even heard any rumours on the subject.  I might well have just started one here of course.  Unlikely methinks but don’t mention it to anyone else just in case. I think for the purposes of this discussion we should assume that it is indeed his child and that he was a very active bloke right up to the end, whenever that was.


It is a little known fact that when Charlie Chaplin made love he used to do it silently with an organist playing in the background. Almost certainly. So I’ve heard.


Winston Churchill was 65 when he became a great wartime leader.  Mind you he did apparently spend a lot of his time in bed drinking champagne.  Not a bad idea if you ask me.  Do you think we might actually be converging on a new purpose in life for you here?  Being a politician and drinking champagne in bed.  Have you got a Chelsea football shirt? I understand that you have to have one to be a politician but don’t worry, you would probably be allowed to wear it over your Lincoln City one. Maybe it depends on which side you support. Labour or Tory that is – not Lincoln or Chelsea.


Did try Google for some inspiration.  It came up with helicopter flight over London, a day’s falconry lessons and a day’s off-road driving lesson.  Apparently they all come approved by the  W . . .  no!


It now falls upon me to pen the closing paragraphs.  I wonder how long it took Tolstoy to think of the finish for War and Peace. Not that I am comparing the two oeuvres.  I doubt that he set out to write a few words to a friend and ended up with 600 pages or so of gripping narrative.  If that were to happen here it would only be ready in time for your 60th.


I’m told that JK Rowling had already written the ending to the seventh and final Harry Potter book early in the series.  Not so here.  Mind you I am quite looking forward to the last book.  I am a fan.


So to conclude, Eleanor, I would like to wish you a very happy birthday. I am glad that we have been invited to celebrate it with you and to help you make the day a success. Although you now live in far away Newark (ish) both Anne and I would be glad not to lose touch and we wish you every happiness for the future for you and Elliot and your new extended family.


Lots of love



13th March 2002 – Observation of the week

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Dear Mrs Davies-Todd


May I take this opportunity to observe that I find that there are many opportunities for  social comment in the maths homework that you set me.


This week (section 2 test 9 part C1) is a perfect illustration of the genre.  It is noted that 18% of attendees at a concert were men and 38 percent were women,  the remainder being children.  What can we read into this?


Firstly it is unlikely that, as in the time after the first world war, there were fewer men in society. Why therefore the imbalance of the sexes?  This could be that the concert was in an area of the country where men adopted traditional attitudes about family life and preferred to spend their time in the pub whilst the wife attended to the children’s needs.


On the other hand it may be that the concert was something arranged by the Women’s Institute and that therefore the entertainment on hand may have been less than suitable for the man of the house.  If this was the case then we should either pity or admire the 18% of males who did turn out.


The concert may have taken place on the Saturday of the FA Cup Final.  If this was the case then it would have been unreasonable for a wife to have expected her husband to turn out. The 18% might then have been accounted for by the fact that there are undoubtedly men in society who have no interest in football.


If the concert had taken place during the school holidays then there would potentially be more mothers than fathers available to attend as the former may well have been at work.


Finally could you please explain the principle behind and uses of the square root of minus one.  My father insists that there is an answer to this.  As my respected teacher of mathematics I am confident that you can explain this to me.


Best Wishes



10th March, 2002

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Dear Mrs Davies-Todd
I note from this week’s maths homework, section two test 8c, question eleven that Mary gets paid three pence for every two pence that Tim receives.

I hope you don’t mind my asking where you got the idea for this unusual renumerative differential. As you may be aware it is often the case in the real world that Tim will get more than Mary. This is regardless of what you might think of the fairness of this arrangement.

You may have noted that for example in the world of professional tennis the ladies are often up in arms over the fact that their male counterparts get paid substantially more than them. Obviously the establishment response to this is that men play five sets compared with only three for the fairer sex and thus the paying public gets more entertainment when watching men than ladies. This is of course subject to the seasonal downpours that seem to be a regular feature of the Wimbledon Tournament.

As an aside I wonder whether Cliff Richard gets paid for his efforts during the wet periods. Perhaps he gets a refund for his ticket?!

Notwithstanding all this I realise that the debate over the rewards paid to professional tennis players, whatever their sex, bears no real resemblance to the issue of who gets paid how much when it comes to Tim and Mary.

There have of course been some well publicised cases in the national press involving females pursuing compensation from their (generally past) employers for unfair levels of wages in comparison to male counterparts. One can also point to examples of women who are paid much more than men (eg financier and supermum – Nicola Horlick).

In the absence of any real data as to why Mary gets paid more than Tim I wonder if you could shed any light on the issue. This is a real concern to the average 10 year old male who struggles to make ends meet with his one pound a week pocket money.

It would really be an issue if this kind of homework question were to send out subliminal messages (reading no doubt over Tim or Mary’s shoulder as they were sat in the dining room chewing their pencils) to parents to the effect that it was ok to pay girls more pocket money than boys.

On a completely separate note I would be most grateful if you could inform Mrs Bennett that I will be unable to partake in the PE lesson today as I am in dire need of cutting my toenails. Hard contact with objects offering any resistance whilst wearing trainers could cause painful damage.

Your attentive student


13th April 2002

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Dear Mrs Davies-Todd

On this last weekend of the holidays I find that I have time to pen you a missive. Holidays, as I am sure you are aware give us the time to mentally recuperate and therefore find the time to indulge in playful notes such as this.

This has been a good holiday. The first weekend was Easter weekend and we had Grandma, Grandad and Aunty Sarah to stay. This is, in my Dad’s words somewhat of a mixed blessing. We don’t really mind them coming but we are always glad when they go.

To illustrate the issue I can use our visit to Sian and Adrian’s over the back fence. We went around for an Easter Egg hunt and whilst we kids were hunting the grown ups were having a drink. Grandad was hugely surprised to the extent that he laughed afterwards that Sian offered a range of drinks including a variety of teas. Grandad’s experience was that at that time of morning one only offered coffee. Different generations!

Anyway you can imagine that this sort of thing compounded over a weekend makes for a sigh of relief when they eventually set off for home. The biggest difference in lifestyle is the fact that we are all up by 7 am (by 6 am the kids are in mum and dad’s bed). Having had breakfast well before the visitors get up it is then somewhat strange to go through the whole process again at around 9.30am and find that it is nearer 10.30 when everyone is ready to tackle the day.

After the departure of the Grandparents the family headed South to London for a few days of cultural activity. We stayed in the Regents Park Marriott Hotel which turned out to be a find. The hotel was conveniently near to Swiss Cottage Tube Station and in a very desirable area of London. Desirable that is until we arrived – no only joking of course.

We met with Mamgu, Tadcu, Aunty Mair and Aunty Sue on the first night. Also Jamie of Jamie and Janice swung by for a visit. We ended up eating in the hotel whereupon Tadcu picked up the bill. Mum and Dad were highly pleased with this.

Over the following three days we did Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Lion King (Mum and Hannah), a tour on the open top bus, Pizza Express, The London Eye, the Tower of London and London Zoo.

The Crown Jewels were genuinely amazing and on their own worth the entry to the Tower. The other amazing thing was the size of Henry XIII’s codpiece on his suit of armour. On the last night Mum and Dad had dinner in the hotel with Aunty Sue whilst we crashed out in the rooms.

On the Friday Dad drove us up the A1 to Welwyn train station and waved goodbye. He was flying to Seattle on Saturday whilst we wended our way back to Lincoln and reality. Unfortunately Mum forgot about the road works at Long Bennington which did delay us a little.

That’s all for now.


Trains Of Thought

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Monday 25th October

Sitting on the train is a good time to write letters.  Although modern technology allows us to stay connected and communicating almost wherever you are these days, including on the train,  it is a good time take a few minutes out to pen a few notes, thoughts or missives, depending on how you want to describe it. If the train isn’t too crowded that is.


There are two types of people you meet on a train: the friendly chatty type and those who are not in the least interested in talking to you.  Coming out of London you meet the tired commuters who do the trip day in day out and who look completely miserable.  I guess they must typically fit in to the “don’t want to talk” types.  Usually they have to drive when they get to Peterborough or some similar nonentity of a long distance commuting town so they can’t even have a beer to relax. Because they do the same trip every day it would be a recipe for disaster in any case if they got into the habit of a drink on the way home, speaking from the perspective of an individual who wants to look after himself that is J.


You also meet the “speak loudly into the mobile phone” types.  Usually the conversation centres around the fact that “they” are on the train and that “we might get cut off at any time”.  “I said we might get cut off at any time. Oh, we’ve been cut off”.  I mustn’t mock because we’ve all done it.


Monday 8th November

It’s funny how your attitude changes quite quickly to catching the train out of London.  When London represents an occasional visit then the time of the train back isn’t really so important.  Now that I’m doing it once a week, sometimes twice, then catching the right train whilst not actually a matter of life or death climbs the scale of necessities such that running for it to make sure of being on board when the doors slide shut becomes part of a regular fitness regime.  I never thought I’d join the ranks of those rushing up the escalator in Kings Cross.  The fact is that if I miss the 18.50 I have to wait until 19.30.  Not a long time in the great scheme of things but all the same an extra 40 minutes before I get home.


One of the problems facing Londoners is the unreliability of the tube.  In theory it only takes fifteen minutes door to door from leaving the office in Camden to stepping on the train at Kings Cross.  It is only two stops on the Northern line.  Reality is that when you get to the tube in Camden the sign tells you that there are delays, the trains are not stopping at Tufnel Park (for what it is worth)  and the electronic notice board informs waiting commuters that it is eight minutes until the next train (at rush hour) and you have only twenty two minutes until your train leaves Kings Cross.  Result: running up the stairs at Kings Cross.


Ah well.  Still there is a vibrancy about travelling to London.  The neon lights in Camden, the pubs, the late opening shops, the rush of people-like ants on their concrete runs all failing to walk anywhere in a straight line, waiting for gaps in the traffic to cross on “don’t walk”.  Corny huh?  They all look tired.  No one smiles on the tube.  It is also a young person’s game.  Where do all the older people go? Or is it my imagination? For somewhere that is supposed to be a happening city London certainly does its best to hide the smiles.  Possibly it takes a couple of drinks after work to bring it out in which case it is a city that seems to thrive only on stimulants.

17th September 2004

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Dear Mr Jones,

Sorry to hear that you are still unwell. We hope and trust that you will undergo a full recovery and be back amongst us at William Farr School as soon as possible. This is particularly important as in your absence your lack of guidance for our young minds is affecting discipline and order in the classroom.

The class council has decided to rearrange the desks a little. This has been done because we found that at this time of year those of us sat at the back had the sun in our eyes for most of the afternoon. In consequence we have put your desk at the back and moved ourselves to the front, in effect rotating the classroom by 180 degrees. The council assumed that you would be ok with this because it was put to a democratic vote. In any case a decent pair of sun glasses would get round any problems you might have.

Moving the desks wasn’t too difficult and in fact hardly any of them were damaged in the process. Not as many as were damaged during the class party we held at the start of term in any case. Before you get excited and start laying blame it wasn’t our fault at all that the desks were broken during the party. In fact none of the damage would have happened if William Ward hadn’t discovered the process of distilling alcohol during chemistry lessons. Some of the kids were just not as used to hard drink as the rest of us. So it is not really anyone’s fault.

You will be pleased to know that we eventually moved the home brew out of the stock cupboard. It was starting to smell a bit anyway and got in the way of couples looking for a bit of privacy during the party. Some of us with responsible heads on our shoulders did make the effort to tidy up the cupboard the day after the party (the cleaner wouldn’t go near the classroom let alone the stock cupboard). I have to confess that we weren’t completely sure which inserts went with which folders but we had a pretty good stab at it so I imagine it will largely be ok.

I’m sure that you will agree it is also good news that Jane Smith’s pregnancy test proved to be negative. Imagine the worried looks on a number of the lads in the class over the past 2 – 3 weeks. Boy I tell you we aren’t going to have too many parties like that in one term.

On to more mundane things the new whiteboard is due to arrive next Monday and should be up on the wall before you come back. We wouldn’t have had a problem if William Ward hadn’t used permanent marker pens to write his poetry. Even then you could probably have worked around the verses – they only took up half the space on the board. The Headmaster suggested, however, that some of the words were a bit on the strong side and might confuse some of the younger kids who might happen to pass by the classroom and read the whiteboard through the door. Creative individual that he may be, spelling was never one of William’s strengths, and the poem was all in all probably not worth keeping on display.

Fair play to William he is always ready to admit when he has made an error of judgement and he did try to rectify the problem. He found, though, that using white gloss paint didn’t work out and in fact the resultant collateral damage to the polished wood floor from the splash-back from the paint roller was not really a desirable outcome. Again to William’s credit he did bring in a rug from home to cover the spot where the paint has stuck. His mother was a bit annoyed at losing here best rug but it just goes to show you can’t please everybody.

She should be glad that Jane Smith didn’t sue William for damages following the accident she had when she slipped on the rug and went flying into the classroom window. Jane herself was partly to blame because she ran into the classroom in careless jubilation having just had the results of her pregnancy test. The Headmaster has very generously said that the cost of replacing the glass in the window can be covered by their insurance policy and that Jane could take the rest of the term off to give her injuries a chance to heal. I think she is in a ward quite close to yours at the hospital so you two might be able to get together for a chinwag when she gets a bit more mobile.

Well Mr Jones that’s it for now I think.

Get well soon,


L’Orangerie De Lanniron, 25th August 2004

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Dear Mr Jones,

Bonjour. I am writing to you from a soggy campsite in Brittany where, if I am able to claim any good fortune in respect of our holiday activities, the Davies family is ensconsed in a mobile home rather than a tent. As I write I am unable to hear myself speak due to the thundering rattle of the rain on the roof of the mobile home. This has been the pattern for a substantial part of the thirteen days of our holiday so far. Today is Wednesday and the forecast for the remainder of the week, and thus the remainder of our holiday, is not good.

Considering this I now come to the main purpose of this letter. I would be most grateful if you could make representations to the Headmaster, Mr Strong, for an extension to the timetabled holiday. It is patently unfair that two of what should have been the best weeks of the holiday have been literally washed out by what might in some circles be seen as an Act of God. Clearly as the Head of a Church School it is not unreasonable that Mr Strong should find some sympathy with this request.

Moreover, if your bid to prolong the summer holidays was to be successful, it would seem that your popularity amongst the pupils of William Farr School would rocket higher than it already is. Therefore I would urge you to contact Mr. Strong by any means possible, and lengthen the period that we all know and love as ‘The Summer Hols.’ May I take this opportunity to thank you for reading this letter and I wait in hope (and torrents of unexpected rain) that your efforts are successful. I expect to be contacted within forty eight of you receiving this letter, inviting me back to school on the sixteenth of September.
Au Revoir,


Center Parcs, 20th October 2004 – later

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Dear Mr Jones,
We went for a family game of mini golf this morning. For the princely sum of £12.80 all four of us kids got to play 18 holes. Dad said to the girl in the kiosk that you could almost have a full round of proper golf for that. The 18 holes comprised of two different 9 hole courses, each of which kept the ball after it was sunk on the 9th green. The two courses were the Greenwood Course and the Castle Hill course. There was nothing to distinguish the two really except that you could see all the balls in the hole on the Greenwoods course which was a good job really because I hit my ball into the lake on the second hole of the Castle Hill course and had to go back and fetch another from the Greenwoods 9th hole, if you can follow that.

The rain kept falling steadily and wetly and a number of the fairways were waterlogged. It didn’t dampen our spirits though. The final scores for the 18 holes were as follows:
Tom 89
Hannah 125
Joe 142
John 165
I think there was some creative accounting going on somewhere but I can’t quite lay my finger on it. Also the contestants were not always fully acquainted with the full rule-set of the Royal and Ancient.

Later Hannah and Dad cycled through the rain to the Country Club for lunch. Dad said that he needed windscreen wipers for his specs. Dad likes going off with one of his kids for a little treat every now and again. Whilst they were there they booked a squash court for 10.15 tomorrow immediately followed at 11am by an hour’s snooker. Fun for all the family.

I went off to the pool and was just coming back to get my football kit ready when I met the rest of the gang on their way with their costumes. Apparently they invented a new kind of sling for John made out of a plastic carrier bag. He thought it was pretty cool and spent a lot more time in the water than on earlier occasions.

Mum and Dad are off out for a curry tonight. They have booked a table at Rajinder Pradesh for 8pm. We will all be forced to stay in with me as a baby sitter. There is plenty of popcorn and tortilla chips to keep us quiet. It’s dark now as I write – about 6.25. It just goes to show we are nearly into winter. The clocks will soon be going back. Always seemingly a step function into winter I think. Incidentally we are also having curry tonight for tea and, tapping away here as I am the smells are wafting over from the kitchen, 4 feet away.

Well that’s it for now I think unless I can come up with some inspiration as the closing paragraphs take form. It’s more a question of weariness rather than writer’s block. I say paragraphs but it is more likely to be paragraph really, although I am not aware of any rule limiting the length of a paragraph and in practice could extend it as long as the mother of invention requires. That isn’t to say that the paragraph would be extended without good reason. I mean to say I’m not going to waffle on for the sake of it.

Bye for now.

Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest, October 20th 2004

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Dear Mr Jones

What can I say. Here we are on holiday again, a cosy family unit ensconsed in villa number 31 at Center Parcs, and dehors le deluge as they would have said in Brittany. Perhaps our family motto should be “Avec Nous Le Deluge”.

As we were walking to the Sub-Tropical Swim Paradise yesterday Dad actually remarked that if we had been in Brittany we wouldn’t have been doing anything so namby pamby as going to an indoor swimming pool. We would have been stripping off at a beach with true British fortitude, or perhaps stupidity as the French might have put it.

Although a villa at Center Parcs is a step up from a mobile home in Brittany it still shares some of the characteristics. Namely the noise of the rain on the flat roof at night wakes you up and from Dad’s perspective the noise levels from us cooped up kids also becomes intolerably high. Even if there is no noise from the kids this is compensated for by the noise from the TV, that being the one way to keep the kids quiet. Except of course when they can’t agree on what to watch or one of them has possession of the remote control and annoys the others by flicking around the channels without prior agreement.

Old John is still in the unfortunate position of having to wear a sling on his right arm after the broken collarbone incident of two weekends ago. He stayed out of the pool on the first day. Either Mum or Dad stayed with him and Dad to a certain extent made a rod for his own back because on that first day he took John to the pool café for a drink. The next day John didn’t want Mum to look after him on the obvious premise that he was more likely to get another trip to the café with Dad. In the end Dad ended up taking him into the pool with his sling on much to Mum’s quite natural concern. The upshot of it all was that the sling was soaked and in fact inadvertently left behind at the pool when we departed.

That was yesterday. Yesterday was actually a fairly action packed day starting with badminton in the morning, ten pin bowling after lunch and, following a stint in the pool, I went to “Football Camp” where, in the rain, the only difference between football and the swimming was that I got dirtier playing football. Wetness was a prominent feature of both activities.

Dad and I went out last night to watch Liverpool play Deportivo in the Champions League. It ended a very disappointing nil nil draw. Dad always says he can’t understand the attraction of football. There are never very many goals involved. Unlike cricket or rugby (typically) or even golf for that matter.

On our way home we stopped off at Chez Pierre, the Parc’s French bistro, for a nightcap. To Dad’s disbelief they only had one brandy, and that was a cheap one at that. He couldn’t imagine a French bistro with half an ounce, or even a gram, of credibility not having a reasonable selection of brandies. He also reflected upon a number of associated thoughts: namely that the French bistro was staffed entirely by locals from nearby Ollerton (our waitress’ name was Sharon, or Shaz as the receipt indicated) and that there we no persons of Asian origin in sight at the Rajinder Pradesh curry house across the Market Square from Chez Pierre. Equally I doubt that the Mediterranean restaurant (pizza), the American food joint or the top French fine dining restaurant were staffed by the relevant nationals. None of this of course takes anything away from the excellent leisure product that the owners of Center Parcs have put together for our enjoyment. You just can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Dad and I had a hot chocolate sat outside under the stars (clouds and drizzle actually) being kept warm by the patio heaters positioned near to every table. We enjoyed ourselves.

When we got home Mum was still up watching the television but after a short while we called it a fairly action packed day.

8th October 2004

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Dear Geoff,
I hope you don’t mind me calling you by your Christian name. I realise that it is normally considered inappropriate for a pupil to call his teacher by their first name but I think that the medium of the letter is quite an intimate one and within the four corners of this piece of paper I feel able to open up a bit more than I might otherwise do in the confines of the classroom. It’s a funny thing. My Dad tells me that he used to call one of his old headmasters Mr Phillips until both Mr Phillips retired and Dad went to university at which time he changed from Mr Phillips to Pete. He’s dead now. Pete that is, not Dad. He was a golfer, as is Dad.

Anyway this is not developing the theme of the letter as it should be not that I have a particular theme in mind. There are no threads coming out of this train of thought; no revelations; no profundities. Two good words there: revelation and profundity. I think I prefer profundity but really have nothing against revelation. This in itself is not much of a revelation nor is it a profundity. If I were to tell you that I was a in love with you that would be a profound revelation. In fact it would be totally astounding and I also have to tell you that it is totally untrue. I thought I’d get that in quick to make sure that there are no misunderstandings here, Geoff. It’s all very well playing around with words but we have to draw the line at playing with fire.

Staying on the subject of fire there is a fireworks display on at the rugby club in Lincoln. It has been an excellent event for the last couple of years. Good value for families and safe to boot. I don’t use the word boot in the context of rugby footware here of course but I’m sure that you realised that. We are a fairly keen rugby family here. I play with the Under 13s at Lincoln RFC, my brother Joseph and John play with the Under 8s and Under 6s respectively. Dad is past it now and sticks to writing the rugby reports for the Echo and the Chronicle and he also maintains the club website.

Poor old John has had his first taste of rugby injury as he has broken his collarbone during an unfortunate period of rough play with Joe at the club yesterday. They weren’t officially playing – just messing about whilst Dad watched the first XV. John had scored and Joe followed through and fell on top of him. The poor lad was in some discomfort and a friend of ours Sue Protheroe, who is a doctor, made the diagnosis and despatched Dad and John off to the Accident and Emergency department at the Lincoln County Hospital. This is conveniently down the road from both our house and the rugby club. He is going to be out of action for a few weeks with his arm in a sling and is an illustration as to why properly organised mini rugby at his age is non-contact.

Dad tells me that Saturday afternoons at the A&E department was a fairy regular event when he was playing!

Later that evening we were scheduled to go to the 18th Bailgate Scout Group family quiz evening at the Bailgate Methodist Church. Dad said it wasn’t normally his cup of tea on a Saturday night but both he and Mum thought that we should support the event. It turned out that other people we spoke to at the quiz felt exactly the same. There is a scenario whereby everyone taking part in the quiz was only doing it because they felt that they should support the event. I’m sure that the organisers thought that they were doing the right thing. Nothwithstanding this we all had a good time.

I went on Callum Mackenzie’s team much to the annoyance of Dad who thought I should be supporting the family. The Davies and Mackenzie teams were level on points at the halfway mark. Then after the cup of tea Mum took John and Hannah home and the bombshell was dropped. The next round was on the Bible. Of course being complete heathens neither Dad, nor Joe’s Godfather Terry who had come along for the action thought they had much of a clue in matters Biblical (despite being well read!) and with Mum having gone home they had lost their subject matter expert. In the end they called home on Dad’s mobile and spoke with Hannah who relayed the questions to Mum whilst she was reading John a bedtime story.

We got nine out of twelve in that round. Not bad and even Joseph contributed with “frogs”, that being the second plague of Egypt. All those days at Sunday School had paid off at last. The Mackenzies beat us by half a point in the end. Not bad considering we had lost half our team at the break. Clare Mackenzie ended up giving Joseph and myself a lift home and Stuart went to the Morning Star with Dad and Terry. A reasonable finish to the evening they thought.

Off to bed on – more in due course