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Last Month's Newsletter

December 2006

Dear Visitor,

Once again, I have to begin with an apology. This one is for the entire year of patchy updates and long silences that regular visitors have had to put up with, and the seemingly static site that casual visitors must have found.

I do feel very much better than I did this time last year, but I’ve had some difficulty (as you have no doubt noticed) getting back into the swing of things. Doing anything seems like a chore, and that’s the last thing I want to feel about the website, believe me. I love doing it, and I love hearing from you – so please, stick with me. Things will improve.

I also want to apologise to everyone who has written asking when the next Lloyd and Hill will be published. I had hoped at one point that I’d get it finished before the end of this year, but that wasn’t to be either. I hope to see it going off to the publisher as early as possible in 2007.

Meanwhile, I have a problem that puts anything else – health, work, whatever – in the shade, and I’m hoping that someone out there is going to help me with it.

You know those little desktop world clock/calendar/calculators that you can buy for next to nothing at petrol stations? Well, we acquired one some time ago, and on a Georgia-induced shift-round of the stuff in the conservatory (to make it more toddler-friendly), I came across this little thing, and realised it had never been commissioned.

By that time I had mislaid the instructions, if I ever had any, but – always game – I poked and prodded it until I finally got it to read the correct time and the correct date after many, many false starts with it triumphantly resetting itself to 2002 for some reason. But I conquered it. And it not only tells me the time and date, it adds up and multiplies for me, and even tells me the time in Bangkok if I want it to. And that’s quite useful if you write to people all over the world, as I do.

But…here’s the rub. Somewhere in my poking and prodding I evidently and entirely inadvertently set the alarm. And now, on the stroke of midnight, every night in life, it plays an extremely irritating Russian folk-tune at me for precisely one minute unless I go in there and switch it off.

Well, all right – the tune might not have been extremely irritating to start with, but it sure is now, and I don’t know how to cancel the alarm. I daren’t do it by trial and error in case it goes back to insisting that it’s 2002 again, because I don’t really know how I got it to stop doing that in the first place. So if anyone out there knows how to cancel the alarm setting on one of these gizmos, please tell me!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to put the English right about something. On Halloween, I was watching Countdown, and Des Lynam (Irish, really, but English by nature!) demanded to know what Halloween was all about. ‘It’s American, isn’t it?’ he said. No, Desmond, it isn’t. It’s another example, as with the language (see Divided by a Common Language), of the Scots and Americans being much closer to one another than they are to the English. The Scots have always celebrated Halloween because October 31st was the last day of the Celtic year, and was the night when witches and warlocks were abroad.

When I was a little girl in the fifties, children would go out ‘guising’, i.e. dressed in costume, and going in groups round the doors. But there was no trick-or-treat – guisers were expected to do a party piece. They would sing or recite a poem or whatever, and would be given sweets and fruit and nuts. And there were Halloween parties with bobbing for apples and all the rest of it.

We moved to England when I was ten, and even though Corby was (and still is) full of Scots, there was no real tradition of Halloween. Children did come to the door, though often not dressed up at all, and would utter the immortal words ‘The sky is blue, the grass is green, and may we have our Halloween’. And ‘our Halloween’ my mother found out, meant money – not fruit and sweets.

So England is just catching up with the rest of us now that it is celebrating Halloween, but it has gone down the trick-or-treat road, I understand. I say ‘I understand’ because Halloween still isn’t big in Corby, at least not in my neck of the woods.

As you’ll have readily worked out, that was unavoidably held over from the newsletter I intended doing in October!

But I’ll spare you my feelings on Guy Fawkes and fireworks which might have constituted part of November’s newsletter, and let you get on now.

Don’t forget the competition, and there are new photos of both George and Georgia on their respective pages (Georgia’s can be found under ‘About Jill’, but do remember that you can find everything the site has to offer if you click on ‘Sitemap’). And please, if there’s anything you would like to see on the site that isn’t already here, do let me know.

I hope to be updating the site again during January (I won’t tempt providence by making any promises) with Christmas pictures, I hope, of gorgeous George and gorgeous Georgia. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the festivities, and I wish you a happy, peaceful, prosperous and healthy new year.


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