It has become customary, I’ve found, for friends and family, to enclose a letter with their Festive cards summarising their family’s many glorious achievements during the past year. These missives have taken on the glowing uniformity of an uncritical hagiography and I, for one, applaud the writers for their imagination.
I had hoped that this year would have been the year when we Apostles could have joined in, but even I, famous for being able to polish even the most structurally sticky turd to an unfeasible sheen, find that this year is not the time for fabrication.
Looking back, before today’s events, I would have given the year a cautious C minus, could do better. There were highs – notably when Janice’s salad surprise was found to have contained enough hallucinogens to have had Timothy Leary craving detox – but these were rather overwhelmed by the middlings and then there were the definitely lows.
In January our beloved Tom cat, Archimedes left us. Archimedes, so named because he appeared to have focused his whole life on one pursuit, namely the perfect screw, met his match in the new neighbours Maine Coon ‘queen’. Well, let’s just say Archie thought Lesley was a queen but that error of both judgement and geometry led to an unexpectedly snappy end.
Naturally for one so mourned a replacement was soon demanded so in February we were joined by the more docile Marina. Indeed so docile was Marina that on three occasions we rushed her to the vet only to find she was merely ‘playing dead’. At least she caused no trouble. Well, until today…
Harold has responded to counselling this year. His food phobia appears to have abated though he did break out in scrofulous grommets at Easter when offered a chocolate gerund by a peripatetic pastor who was standing in for Cardinal Scrunt after his secondment to the Triflugical Synod. I believe, while the Synod itself wasn’t a success, Scrunt has been offered a part as the rear end of a Papal Bull and is now touring the Low Countries with the Jovial Jesuits.
Janice, while being encouraged to narrow her vegan experimentation or next time she can expect a custodial sentence, has surpassed herself academically. Not that she set the bar especially high with her first ‘double’ in June when she achieved 11 percent in Organic Pottery, her first mark ever to reach double figures.
The long suffering Mrs Apostle has at long last taken delivery of her mobile iron lung and has started training for next year’s Three Peaks Challenge or as Harold likes to call it, Her Last Catarrh.
Until Christmas Eve, my year could have been described as ordinary but then I was made redundant having been replaced in the Marketing Team by an interactive white board. It was that blow from which today’s problems stemmed and which has led to me writing this letter.
You see, on my way home from my hastily organised leaving do where I was prevailed upon to participate in the eggnogsnog challenge with Ludmilla from Stereotyping I diverted to collect my father who was joining us for Christmas Day, having unexpectedly been released from the Sunnybanks, home for the terminally bewildered. Partly as a result of the old man have an ‘experience’ as we entered the drive and partly as a result of the surfeit of eggnog I hit something
At the time I assumed it was a stray shoe or similar but in retrospect I fear it was Marina who was having a short coma near the catnip.
This tragic piece of careless driving only became apparent in the early hours of Christmas morning when we heard Harold attempting the third chorus of the Marseillaise on his electronic ukulele. As you will realise this is a sign of pending trauma which manifested itself in Bollock the dog trying to drag something through the cat flap. When it was light enough to see what he was doing we found he had retrieved Marina. Which would have been touching had she not be gutted by foxes and frozen and Bollock’s intentions were more culinary than considerate.
While I was denying any role in our cat’s demise, dad decided to open a bottle of sparkling to make some cheery buck’s fizz only for the cork to take an eccentric route off Mrs Apostle’s aluminium carapace and hit him squarely in the eye.
It took some two hours to ferry dad to A&E and return to find Janice and Harold arguing over the appropriate method of feline interment. There was something unappealingly pathological about how they had laid the eviscerated pet on the dining room table so I insisted on placing it outside pending a decision on its future.
Sadly in the kerfuffle the oven had not been switched on so the bird was somewhat delayed in cooking. In one way this looked like it might turn out to be a silver lining on the day since the turkey was ready at 9 pm just as dad was returning from hospital. By then the mood had improved and we were looking forward to sitting down together and sharing our humble repast. Dad arrived carrying a Christmas present which he said was for all the family and must have come from the neighbours as it was on the dustbins by the back door.
Before I could intervene the children ripped the paper off only to find Marina again. I had wrapped her corpse in the nearest paper which happened to be a Santa themed montage. Up to that point we had managed to stay reasonably calm but the reappearance of Marina triggered something in Harold who hurled the cat at the fire.
What we didn’t know at that point was that one of the final resting proposals that the children had discussed involved embalming and they had undertaken a preliminary and, let’s be honest here, somewhat amateurish marinading. So far as I have been able to ascertain the liquid in which Marina had been soused including some pretty potent spirit and before anyone could move the cat exploded.
Which brings me to the reason I decided to write to you, friends and family. Tonight we are in a Shelter, having seen the family home ‘evaporate’ – apparently a technical term since it was used by the fire brigade to describe how quickly our house disappeared in smoke. Dad is back in A&E, not because he suffered any further injury but he says he feels safer there amongst the drunks and hoodlums. Mrs Apostle is at the emergency blacksmith since she has been ‘entombed’ by the heat – another technical term apparently. And the children have begun making small felt dolls that look a little like me and which they say they intend as novelty sewing aids for which they are currently hunting pins. As a result I have just started a crowd funding page to try and restore our family to the state of bemused apathy in which we entered this year. Please consider giving generously. If you do I guarantee I will not be writing to you next year.
Yours, somewhat desperately,
PS Happy Christmas