View from the Bridge: 27

by John Morrison


27: Catching the Post

Time seems to be standing still in Milltown. We've recovered from the almost unbearable excitement of bonfire night, and now there's nothing much to look forward to until next spring. The sub-editor on the Milltown Times has used up his allocation of 'mist and mellow fruitfulness' banalities, and doesn't want to waste the Christmas clichés before what we laughingly call the festive season has really got underway.

Mrs Smallholder, too, is wrestling with the intricacies of the English language. She hammers away one-fingered on her laptop computer, like a demented woodpecker, to complete the now-traditional task of putting together a couple of circular, end-of-year letters. She has to go through her address book with a highlighter pen and a bottle of Tippex, to decide who gets which.

Dear Friends,

It's Christmas time again, when the Smallholder clan gathers together in the family home: to carve the traditional roast leg of vegan, uncork a bottle or two of the finest Moroccan Rioja and raise a glass to all the dreadful people we've managed to avoid for yet another year.

You will, of course, be keen to know how the Smallholder family has fared during 1997. The simple truth is that we are very busy, very successful, and very, very smug.

The past year has been both exciting and challenging. The financial sector continues to prosper, allowing us to offer gainful employment to a number of Phillipino housemaids who are, thankfully, already accustomed to a brutal regime of poorly-paid manual labour

The compliments of the season
from the Smallholder Family

The other circular is proving more onerous. Mrs Smallholder has to call upon her vast reserves of tact and diplomacy when writing to those whose very existence seems to comprise a negative lifestyle statement.

Dear ex-friends,

Just a quick note, as we approach the festive season, to inform you that you no longer dovetail into our portfolio of friends and acquaintances. We thank you for your friendship in past years, and trust that you will understand our unenviable predicament. Please delete our address, phone number and web-site from your own database, and never ever contact us again. Yes, really.

The compliments of the season
from the Smallholder family

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