Round robin

Dear Derek

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again,  and that here I am, once more sending my Christmas greetings. I’m sure you’ll understand when you see this rather impersonal word-processed letter – they’re awful aren’t they? But they’re such a good way of making sure everyone is up-to-date with everything. 

Not that I would ever accuse you of not being up-to-date! I’m always hearing about you in the news and I’m delighted that you’re doing so well. I’m not surprised. I knew from the moment I first met you – when I watched you dive into the hotel swimming pool all those years ago – that you were a winner. I marked you down for success then, and I was right wasn’t I? The papers say that you’re tipped to be the next MD. It’s what you always wanted isn’t it? You’ve worked so hard. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that nothing – no nasty revelations on Twitter! – will ruin your chances.  

I also saw the article with that lovely photo of Miranda and the boys. She looks so beautiful and serene – I don’t know how she does it. But I can appreciate that it would be difficult to be anything but calm in that idyllic old manor house you’ve just bought. When I was a little girl I used to dream of a house like that. Your boys are looking so grown up. Jessica, of course, is growing too – she’s about the same age as your eldest. Coming up for 14 and getting more expensive by the day! If it’s not one thing it’s another – there’s always something she needs. I can’t give her as much as I’d like, but I try to make sure she isn’t deprived of the basics. Christmas, of course, is a worry. Everything costs so much. Jessica is very good, but it’s hard for her when she sees other kids getting things. Like your sons. I try to explain about being a single parent but it’s not always easy, especially with the latest cuts.

Funny how life turns out isn’t it? I never imagined that I’d end up living in an inner city flat and forced to be dependent on handouts.  But a single youthful mistake and no proper career and that’s it. Still I mustn’t complain, we make our beds and we have to lie on them. And I’ve never regretted lying on that particular bed…

And the pictures in the magazine of you all on holiday! Mauritius wasn’t it? Jessica and I managed a very nice caravan holiday in Clacton – it was just a shame it rained all the time. It seems so long since I felt that warm Mediterranean sun on my limbs. Years in fact. I often remember that wonderful holiday in Tuscany – the sun, the wine, the luscious fruits. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted grapes that were quite so sweet…You always liked grapes didn’t you?

Gazing out into the dark December night, it gives me so much pleasure to recall those carefree days – and those passionate nights! I remember every detail so vividly – and if I didn’t, I’ve still got the photographs to remind me. I blush when I look at them.

Still if life doesn’t turn out quite how we’d hoped, we’ve only got ourselves to blame haven’t we? I don’t intend to be stuck for ever though. I’m starting a little business doing websites and such. One of my clients, a journalist, says I’ve got a real flair for explaining things and I ought to try writing an blog. Getting known is the difficult thing. Getting publicity.

Of course, I’ve got Jessica. Despite the financial difficulties of being a single parent I can truly say I’ve never regretted my decision to have her. She’s such a lovely girl – I’m sure you – and perhaps your family? – would love to meet her. Perhaps this time I should insist we get together in the new year – instead of just scribbling it on a Christmas card?

Anyway, I’d better get this off. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that all goes well for you and that nothing occurs to mar your chances of success. As for me, I manage, as I said, with the odd handout. I do appreciate them so. Without them, I don’t know who I’d turn to. The newspapers perhaps?  Looking forward to receiving your card – you’re so kind and generous. As ever, I wish you a peaceful, trouble-free and very very prosperous 2013.

All my love

Susanna

I read my letter through with a feeling of deep satisfaction. I do so love getting in touch with old friends at Christmas. It evokes so many happy memories and ensures a contented future. And that’s the great thing about these ‘round robbing’ Christmas letters on the word processor. You make a few changes here and there – alter the names and the dates and the places – and you have a new, completely personal letter. It saves so much time. If I’m quick I can do one more and then I must book my ski-ing holiday in St Moritz. 

Dear Ian

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again,  and that here I am, once more sending my Christmas greetings. I’m sure you’ll understand when you see this rather impersonal word-processed letter – they’re awful aren’t they? But they’re such a good way of making sure everyone is up-to-date with everything. 

Joss Alexander hasn’t written any round robin or even round robbing letters this year, but is concentrating on writing the sequel to her historical mystery novel, Tainted Innocence

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