The highlights of 1997 for us were our holidays (arent they for most people) and the fact that we still have our jobs (no small matter in these unsettling times). Sandra and I spent two great weeks camping on Guernsey and then Francis sped across the continent on his 600V Transalp to Tuscany and back going over some magnificently high passes including the Isèran and the Stelvio. For entertainment the high spot was perhaps Handels Ariodante during the Covent Garden festival. Close contenders were Pollini playing Beethoven at the RFH and Domingo in Simon Boccanegra, not forgetting Lou Reed!
The annual trip down the Thames on the Waverley during the wettest day of the year prompted this effusion from Francis:
The pistons pursue their unceasing act
of love and the steamers prow furrows
through grey-green waters while an east wind blows;
stork-like forts loom ahead: the deck is packed.
Side-paddles ruffle estuary water
in flecks and glints; flat Essex horizon
combines with sea in leaden unison.
You are the Rivers beautiful daughter
and come from a truer age and sea-lochs
bordered by lush hills and craggy ridges.
The City is now your servant: bridges
open to you above the shuttered docks.
All hail with blasts and cheers in one consent
for through you we regain childhood content.
Francis also won a £100 prize for another poem Sandra persuaded him to send in and is now finally convinced that he might have some poetical talent, especially after he has already been published four times this year including a volume commemorating Diana Princess of Wales and to be presented to the Queen!
Sadly, two of our most loved and beautiful cats died this year. Jasper, after having wandered wild for some time in Wales, returned to London and was with us for just a few days before he was found asleep forever in Francis cupboard, the victim of a mysterious infection. But perhaps, even more poignant was our tortoiseshell kitten Bonnies end (of Bonnie and Clyde team, Clyde being the ginger male) who after a frisky start to life fell victim to peritonitis and died after two operations with just enough time to come home to say farewell to her friends and family.
We still keep to our work; Sandra is still delivering the local newspapers and Francis is still teaching Information Technology at the local further Education College. Although given a Christmas bonus this year, we have passed yet another year without a pay rise. Because of our worsening financial situation we have, therefore, reluctantly stopped all outgoing calls from our phone until further notice. You may still phone us, however!
Our Gamelan group proceeds well under the guidance of our music-master and this year we have given concerts at the South Bank and in Wheathampstead.
Do not forget: our cottage in Wales is available for any bookings you might wish to take up at very reasonable rates. Do visit our Web Site at WWW.Angelfire.Com for further information. Our E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
May we take this opportunity of wishing you a very prosperous and happy new year,
Francis and Sandra Dec 1997