Tom Davenport’s Strictly Speaking

A left-over from Christmas

Christmas gap-year humanitarian crisis Red Cross Round Robin

A left-over from Christmas

I found this escapee letter lodged behind a chest of draws; the annual Christmas note from that charming family, the Boddington-Ashcrofts. Well worth a read:

Dear Friends, both town and country,

Well, 2009 proved to be yet another triumphant year in the Boddington-Ashcroft household, characterised by the successes and accolades that you will have no doubt come to expect from us. We hope you are well too. Despite the perpetual round of parties and delightful holidays abroad, we have all been rather busy:

After an orderly departure from HSBC in February, Hugh decided to take a break from work for a while so that he could focus on his passion: doing good works for those less fortunate than ourselves (practically everyone). Nobly volunteering for the Berkshire division of the Red Cross, he has been recognised by our local MP (a very great friend of ours, naturally) for his planning of disaster relief operations in case of humanitarian crisis in the region.

It was a surprise to discover last March that I was again pregnant – and after such a gap! But Hugh, as always, was very strong and delighted at the prospect of a baby bump. Since their arrival in September, Herbert and Bertha have brought nothing but joy. A little local woman comes in to tend to them when I am otherwise engaged in good works alongside Hugh. I do however insist on seeing them for at least two hours per week and feel a very ‘hands-on’ Mum. Naturally, I continue to act as hostess for the Bishop when required and throw quite the most exclusive dinner parties in the county.

Algernon’s brief affair with one of the Spice Girls (I forget which) came to an end in August. Whats-her-name is a sweet natured girl but Hugh and I had a great difficulty in understanding her over afternoon tea, on account of her frightening accent. Algernon said talking didn’t really enter the relationship so that was not a barrier. He is such a delight. He is now dating a very nice girl, – The Hon. Claudia Camilla Cassandra Clementine Cavendish (ex Cheltenham Ladies College). She came to stay in November and we adored her – and she us, of course. We had so much in common.

As part of her Gap Year, Penelope is off on Missionary work at the conclusion of January. We just hope she won’t end up bringing home cradle-fulls of infants like that silly woman Madonna. Penelope really is incurably wonderful, constantly thinking about others and giving up so much to help them; she has learned so much from me. 

Meanwhile, young Arabella, somewhat put-out initially by the arrival of the twins, has recovered herself. She hopes to follow her great-great-great-great-great grandfather and read Classics at Oxford, and so spent the summer holidays in Rome in order to out-class her peers. Getting in won’t be a problem with Hugh’s contacts. She has also been getting rather excited about reaching double figures in April.

It remains only for me to wish you all a happy 2010. We will doubtless have a stupendous year and we hope yours is nice as well.

Gertrude Boddington-Ashcroft