Here is a copy of my Christmas letter. I sent them to everyone I know. If you didn't get one that means I have never forgiven you for stealing Katie away from me in the Third grade and kissing her in the day care's supply closet amongst the tower of toilet paper rolls and that bucket of saw dust they used to soak up the children's vomit and pee. You know who you are!
Hello all. Are you ready for another year’s review of my going ons? I would suggest you sit down before continuing on. I would feel a degree of responsibility if I didn’t warn you that there is a possibility that upon reading the shocking news that this year has wrought, you might temporarily lose consciousness which would cause you to fall upon cat who would then eat its way to freedom through your skull. It’s an ignoble death I wouldn’t wish on an advertising executive much less our loved ones.
Are you comfy and sitting? Is the cat fed and safely stowed away? Here come’s the news. I graduated. That’s right after thirty years I have finally run out of education. Although I am may enrol in a correspondence course on gun repair. You never know when this whole computer fad is going to run its course. When it does I want to have a useful trade to fall back on.
I returned to Edinburgh last month to take part in the conferment ceremony which included the tapping of my head with a cap cut from the ancient trousers of everybody’s favourite Calvinist, John Knox. With that odd but sacred blessing, I am now a doctor of Informatics. So if you have an inflammation of your informatic gland, I’m your man.
Since graduating I have joined the ranks of the respectable and got a job. I am a researcher at Royal Holloway College, University of London. Although London is in the name, the campus is in the county of Surrey in a town called Egham, which is just south of Windsor where Queen Elisabeth, my future monarch, resides. It’s a beautiful campus set amongst a forest on top of a hill that overlooks the town. Think of Dracula’s castle looming ominously over the cowering village of ignorant peasants. The founder of the school made his money selling ointments and salves of dubious medicinal benefit during the 19th century. He then used his fortune to found one of the first colleges in England to educate woman. I commute by train to this pleasant place most days and work in an office mostly populated by aged academics and mad Russian scientists on sabbatical.
Although this year has largely been a happy and successful one, there have been setbacks. In my never ceasing quest for a leisurely but profitable life, I endeavoured to make my fortune raising guinea pigs. Did you know that guinea pigs are neither pigs nor indigenous to Guinea. There are woeful tales of early Dutch settlers, having also heard the fiscal siren song of the guinea pig, chartered ships to guinea ready to make their fortunes based on the tales of these creatures only to find that the animal’s misnomer was their misfortune. Guinea pigs also cannot synthesise vitamin C and like humans must get it from their food, but I digress. My business plan included breeding these little creatures for the chain of Chilean restaurants that are becomingly increasingly popular in this fair metropolis. Things were going swimmingly as you could imagine. I was raising the little beasts free range. They had the run of our little back garden. They were happily going about their little guinea pig business. They had created little nests and paths. I saw the pound signs as my first litters were born and were growing quickly. As a female guinea pig is sexually mature in three weeks, I knew after the first litters were reared it would be as good as printing my own money, albeit squeaky furry money.
But. But my friends, disaster struck. My herd, actually ‘group’ is the correct collective word for guinea pigs, suffered a horrible decimation. No. It was worse than a decimation. It was a complete and total guinea pig holocaust wrought by the jowls and claws of an urban fox. The carnage was horrible. It was like a scene from star wars when the imperial forces of Darth Vader attacked the Ewok villages. It was surely the scene that fell to the cutting room floor because its graphic nature caused George Lucas to vomit into his own mouth, swallow hard and then choke out the words “good god! We can’t put that in the movie. It’s too too horrible.” This was a particularly sick minded fox as well as he did not kill to sate his animal hunger. He killed for the pleasure of it. His sadistic little canine mind took pleasure in separating the cute little guinea pig head from the chubby and equally cute guinea pig body. Funny enough these two cute parts of the animal are not so cute when separated and strewn across your garden lawn. There I was surveying the rodent carnage and trying to decide what to make of my misfortune. There was also the practical issue of what must be done with this fuzzy re-enactment of the Khmer Rouge’s Choeung Ek I now stood amongst.
It was truly heart breaking to see these little harmless creatures’ bodies defiled and discarded. Alive they are truly endearing little creatures. They squeak and scamper like little fat men in bear suits. I really mourned their en masse loss. I thought I would forget my fiscal woes and restore a little of their dignity, lost by the manner of their death, by a proper burial. I determined to match together each animal’s head with its corresponding body, tucking in any indiscrete viscera.
This was a harder task than I imagined and I must admit near the end I was less discerning about getting the matches exact. Ultimately I was left with three extra heads and a body of a creature I was sure was not one of my guinea pigs. Once the restored corpses were placed in the long trench grave I dug, I also placed the miscellaneous heads and body along with a few daisies. A few sombre words were said and I laid them to rest.
So this year like most has been one of happiness made more appreciated by the salting of misfortune.
Love and best wishes from us for this holiday season,