On this occasion do not speak off festive birds that have over indulged and become round robins. Although the image that conjures up is rather amusing; after all how many of us hang fat balls out for the birds in winter. What do we expect? Fat birds of course! Now I begin to feel one of two things: guilty because I haven’t actually put food out for my avian companions this year or OMG am I jeopardising the health of the Barry bird population by feeding them saturated fat?
Is the reason I haven’t seen many robins because they’ve all died of coronary heart disease over the summer? Are they laid up in birdie hospital? Lying prone with dinky drips attached to their limps lifeless wings? Perhaps I should have listened to my mother when she told me to watch Spring Watch. I was a member of the junior RSPB when I was younger, when I go to my parents’ house the stickers are still on the side of the orange and white chest of drawers that used to reside in my childhood bedroom. Oh how we loved those stickers!
Back to the real round robins that I am referring to; the circular letters some people slip into their Christmas card to blitz all and sundry with news of the previous year familial activity. And oh yes some people are wedded to this nauseating practice! The game is one up man ship it seems especially loved by people adamant that their life experience is truly unique; Jane Austen, after all, was an average woman of her generation wasn’t she?
One year Auntie felt moved to write one. This was the year after Auntie had lost her husband and it had understandably been a difficult time. The problem was having decided she wanted to write the letter she couldn’t think of anything to say! So it fell to me to try and remember what she’d been doing beyond playing golf and baking for various charity sales. Bless her we did eventually come up with a version she was happy with and by wrapping the challenges up with self deprecating humour we rescued her from the ‘woe is me’ ramblings she initially favoured! Thankfully she has never asked me to do it again.
This week I had a hilarious phone call from my darling dad who had embarked on his annual revenge round robin that he crafts in response to the one he receives from an acquaintance in New Zealand. The mass produce letter comes complete with family photos of the exploits of him, his wife and their five offspring. Quite why some of the catastrophes are worthy of inclusion escapes me but I’ll give the guy this he is persistent!
There is little that warms my heart more than the sound of my 83 year old father giggling down the phone as he reads out his work in progress; he has one hell of a fertile imagination! He writes in long hand with the perfect precise joined up script one associates with an old fashioned school master. The highlight I would like to share with you is the paragraph about the Salons; a factual foundation has been somewhat embellished for effect (I assume).
Frances has been hosting salons for sophisticated ladies this year and she tried to get the press interested in the soirees. However there was no interest when they (the press) realised the attendees were not lesbian feminists! Where he got that from heaven only knows? I did mentioned I had contacted Women’s’ Hour as I felt they had neglected the topic of contemporary spinsterhood; that much is true. I did get an email back from Jane Garvey saying she had passed my details on to her researchers and noting she had recently returned to being a spinster (if that were possible) and life wasn’t too bad!
My mother doesn’t get off lightly either as he tells all about how he reads the books for her book club and gives her crib notes! And goes on to say the readers retire to the local pub after for a coffee (priced £1.30)! This month she has been grappling with a Charles Dickens resorting to an audio book version with 17 discs each lasting over an hour! Martin Jarvis might have a pleasant voice to listen to but this is pushing a mere mortal into the realms of insanity; I could ask if we’ll notice if she has slipped into a parallel universe but that would be cruel and uncalled for!
So please dear readers think twice before stuffing the bird before Christmas Day; multiple flavours of sausage meat inside a turkey is one thing, tedious trivia in an email is something quite different! The temptation may however be simply too great to resist – if it is be nice to your children as they are hapless unaware victims until they meet a recipient of the festive missive in a supermarket and a detail about their life too personal for them to have shared with a virtual stranger is casually dropped into conversation!