Now wait a minute, a Green Letter with news in, that's against all precedent. But nevertheless, here it is. This is how Sam Johnson unaccountably failed to put it -
To put it another way - Jo decided she couldn't stand being chair of her choir any more / got a really great job / ran out of places to add new bits to our Cambridge house (delete whichever). And the MRC and your correspondent came to the Parting of the Ways. So we moved.
We miss all our friends, of course, but can't say we miss the fenland scenery. Up here in the hills nature runs to our door. The nature in question is called Addyman's Wood and is about three miles long by thirty feet wide. Probably filled with very long thin animals who have to slide past each other in layers, and have to turn round very carefully in case an incautiously exposed length of tail gets snipped off by the ring road traffic. The bit that ran to our door was a fox, complete with regulation reddish brush (presumably not incautiously exposed), standing at our doorstep in the snow at tea-time one night, but it didn't stay for a bevvie. (Nor, happily, for a plump young cat.)
The wildlife must have habituated years ago to the continual sounds of car alarms and burglar alarms. The humans certainly have &endash; no-one does a thing when the alarms sound. They're everywhere. Even the toy cars probably have toy car alarms.
What's Leeds like? Lots of travel agents and lots of pharmacists. (Judging by all those alarms, more thieves than any other profession.) Where we're living right now, more pharmacists than greengrocers, takeways or banks.
There's a lot of travelling. Things are scattered thinly around all over the dales and vales of West Yorkshire, it seems - a barn dance here, a viol consort there - on Thursdays Jo strides off through the snow to Sheffield to sing; other times Thos is to be found in various obscure church halls looking for a dance group with thrutch. And Leeds is the home of the Shortest Canal in the World. (OK, if not the absolute shortest, I bet it's the shortest that's home to two nesting pairs of black swans.) There's a perfectly good Leeds and Liverpool Canal, but the one I mean is the one that's advertised as 'Walk through the Canal Gardens'. It's all of fifty feet, I'd say.
So - please note new address, but don't note it too hard, as we're only renting and we're actively seeking a new plaything for Jo's creative urges (i.e. a house which doesn't yet have three loos 1.) And I'm looking for suitable guides, such as Gardening on Concrete, The Bindweed Buff's Bumper Book and The Joy of Moss. The estate agents' blurbs have infiltrated our minds and it's difficult not to see every picture of a house in those terms. "An imposing thatched inn with spacious and versatile accommodation, 2 recept, 40 bed, mangers optional in season. Period fireplace with fitted huntsmen. Garden includes replica stagecoach and 15 stuffed robins. Snow guaranteed all year round. Internal viewing essential. FSH, GSOH, PBAB.2"
Although we discovered SimCity, a game that wipes out days at a time, 1996 was World Harmony Year (Limited Edition, Blinco Grove Only). Thos was organising a dance band for New England-style contra-dancing (the thrutchy stuff he keeps looking for in vain round here). More time phoning players than actually playing. Jo spent her last year as Chair of a large choir more in fretting over finance than in singing. Owen has become Shadow Chief Engineer and Specialist Advisor on Unmentionable Noises to the student radio station being set up by the Four Universities of Manchester and Salford. His first taste of real media politicking - the wannabe radio journalists' struggles seem to be pretty tasteless.
And Martin has driven Whiskey Before Breakfast, the current band, into CD production, a feat we all lived and breathed for some months; we can now tell you more than you would ever want to know about how it's done. Like, here it is, only 5 days to the launch, and you ready to press; you've got your title, you've got your copyright permissions, you've got your inlay, you've got the artwork for your inlay, but have you remembered the artwork for the actual disc itself? Oops. Anyway (if we may be allowed a small glow of parental admiration) we think it's a brilliant CD, and it can be yours too for a mere £10 sent to Martin at 62 Blinco Grove. (No, honestly, we don't get commission).
Yes, we left Martin behind. Lucky neighbours - his cohabitees are both musos too. The house now sports 3 pianos - just have to hope they can get by.
Time to go. Happy Crimbo from Crimbo-in-Limbo, especially from Smith and Jones who Have Not Enjoyed Relocating and keep telling us. Not to mention Babar the Elephant 3.
Thomas and Jo