I know you can’t wait to read my Holiday newsletter…

Do you feel obliged to read distant friends’ and relatives’ lengthy Christmas newsletters about a bunch of people, places and activities about which you know sweet FA? Here’s one that beats them all … and will give you some laughs for a change. Enjoy.

Holiday newsletter from How To Write Better

Well, hello there from your dear friend with the latest news from jolly old England. And what a year it has been! I know you don’t have time to share all the exciting news so here are just the main highlights…

Let’s start back at the beginning, well almost, when I attended a wonderful New Year‘s Eve celebration – a friendly, informal affair thrown by my neighbour Lucy Sludge and her husband Percy. We were having an absolute riot playing charades – the theme was different species of river fish, I recall – and munching away on Lucy’s tasty home-made quinoa shortbread when her eldest son Luke turned up with some friends.

They had brought some nice fizzy drinks in small bottles with them and shared those around everyone in the room. Wasn’t that nice of them? They even popped a little sugar pill in each one for us to “sweeten them up a bit,” they said. Such a delightful treat when all we’d had to drink so far was Percy’s elder flower cordial from three summers ago.

Anyway we soon decided to play another game and Luke’s friend Bozzy suggested strip poker. Normally that would be a little adventurous for us but hey, this was still the spirit of Christmas! And we were all in such good moods by now! Lucy is normally quite shy but now all she was worried abut was that she was wearing her oldest bra which was a bit loose, even though she’s a 44 double G cup. However I reassured her and undid my blouse to show her my bra which I’ve had 14 years now and it’s still going strong.

Christmas newsletter from How To Write BetterLuke’s friends showed us how to play the game and we started with gusto! Percy joined in too but after a while took a nap curled up by the sink in the downstairs cloakroom. He’d had two bottles of fizzy drink with the little pills – probably had too much sugar. We girls kept going though!

Well, all except dear little old Maureen Sillitoe who by now was stark naked and dancing on the front lawn while singing La Cucaracha. She never was much of a card player, even though she’d been playing whist for nearly 70 years. One of the others took a coat out to her but she shouted out two very rude words connected with sex and travel. Meanwhile Lucy was making spam sandwiches for everyone and got a little confused with the butter. She had spread it all over Bozzy’s face and was trying to lick it off which Luke and Bozzy thought was very funny. I have to say, though, it was a bit odd.

That’s about all I can remember until New Year’s Day when I woke up in the Sludge’s bathtub and had a really sore head. Must have been that elder flower cordial – I thought it looked a little mouldy. Well, anyway, the winter carried on and just when the daffodils had started poking their noses up through the mud I got a visit from my dear old friend Marge and her new husband Kevin from Down Under! Kevin had never been to England before so this really was an exciting occasion.

Hanukkah newsletter on How To Write BetterOnce they had gotten over their jetlag I suggested we go to the pub for lunch – you just can’t beat a nice British pub now, can you? I knew Kevin would be charmed by our local, The Stuck Pig, and he was, of course. Well, not right away because he’s 6 foot 6 inches tall and weighs over 300 pounds and he was really surprised when he faceplanted smack into one of the quaint old ceiling beams in there on the way in. He said some very naughty words, in Australian dialect I think, and his eyes were all funny for about half an hour.

Anyway Kevin recovered and ordered a pint of our wonderful local real ale, along with a couple of sherries for Madge and me. I think he must have coughed just as he took his first sip of ale, though and I got the feeling he was a bit disappointed when he spat ale all over our table and yelled “what the f***? I’ve had 5-day old kangaroo p*ss that tastes better than this!” He went on and on for ages.

The publican was very nice and suggested Kevin have a can of Fosters on the house as long he shut up about the real ale, and we ordered lunch. Kevin was still a bit sulky so Madge and I decided on some steak and kidney pie all round. I think it’s lovely to show off wonderful British cuisine to our overseas visitors! When it came it looked delicious and we all tucked in. Kevin still wasn’t very happy.

“Why the f*** can’t you Poms stop f***ing around with your food and just cook the meat on the barbie, instead of wrapping it up in this sweaty cr*p that tastes like a trucker’s armpit?” Kevin was mumbling a bit because he had a mouthful of steak at the time. With the next mouthful, he continued, “and what the f*** is this stuff in with the meat?” He pulled a piece of kidney out from between his teeth. “Looks like a flamin’ Koala turd. Tastes like one, too.” I can’t imagine how Kevin knows the taste of either kangaroo wee or even koala poo. Perhaps he was hallucinating due to the jetlag.

Holiday humor on How To Write BetterAnyway Kevin calmed down a little and the meal ended with no further outbursts. I know I shouldn’t have been, well, risqué, but when Kevin asked me what I recommended from the sweets menu I couldn’t resist saying, “you really should try the Spotted Dick.” (I’m so naughty, aren’t I?)

And after a couple of days they went off to catch their 10-day bus tour of 24 European cities. They promised to send me a postcard if the bus stopped for long enough in one place.

The springtime was lovely. It was so nice to see the pretty flowers! I even managed to get out for a super walk on the two days when it didn’t rain, and gradually the daytime temperature warmed up from about 50 degrees Fahrenheit to, let’s see – must have at least 52 degrees. Soon it was early summer and our whole village was trembling with excitement at the thought of the highlight of our social year – the village fete!

It was in late June this year and the sun shone for two whole hours which meant that the fancy cakes table (which I run every year with Lucy, my neighbour whom I mentioned earlier) actually dried out and we didn’t have to cover the whole thing with plastic wrap like we normally do. Sadly the sun attracted the flies, but hey – you can’t have everything and who cares about a little extra protein in their chocolate fudge cake? The proprietor or The Stuck Pig opened the bar all day which was lovely (mostly for the men, mind you) and the atmosphere became very festive and merry.

Christmas humor on How To Write Better Percy (Lucy’s husband, you remember?) came out of The Stuck Pig after an hour and a half with a very red face, stinking like a whisky distillery, and joined in the merriment with the troupe of Morris Dancers who come and entertain us every year. Percy’s dancing is a little rusty and although he means well his presence was a little disruptive. I think he was upset that he wasn’t wearing bells on his ankles like the other dancers, because as they pranced about he kept shouting “ding-a-f***ing-ling” which boomed out even over the jolly accordion music.

After a while I heard one of the Morris Dancers shout that naughty expression to him, you know – the one connected with sex and travel, see above – followed by “you’re sh*tfaced, you stupid old p*sshead!” I’m not sure exactly what those words mean but they’re not very nice, are they? Thankfully dear little Maureen Sillitoe was hovering nearby and kindly led Percy away to the bushy area round the back of the church and out of harm’s way.

We didn’t see them again for some time but when we did Maureen had some little rabbit poop pellets stuck to the back of her dress, some long grass in her hair, and Percy’s flies were undone. I can’t imagine why that should have been, but I have to say – I hadn’t seen Percy smile like that for at least 20 years. These village occasions can be so joyful, can’t they?

Ah, sweet summer! The sun actually shone on several days, even two days in a row at one point, so we basked in the balmy loveliness of it all. Then of course the nights began to draw in, the temperature cooled from around 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees, and the leaves on the trees began to turn from green to dirty brown – such a lovely autumnal tone.

Probably the other ultimate highlight of our year here in our cosy little Wessexshire village of Farting-In-The-Hedges (and I know you can’t wait to read about it), is that exciting time when we English roll all the naughty spookiness of Halloween into the glorious bonfires and fireworks attributed to that rather silly conspirator who wanted to blow up our Parliament with gunpowder but thankfully got caught before he could do any damage, silly man.

Hanukkah humor on How To Write BetterThe Brits of course disapprove of letting children go out to do this rather tacky “trick or treating,” because they think it’s like sending your little ones out begging. I remember when my little Duncan was about 7 and we mothers thought it would be fun to let our kids dress up and knock on neighbours’ doors, we had to write little notes to everyone in in our street and ask their permission. Many of them refused. “We don’t agree with begging,” they sneered.

I mean, you have to understand that despite the “trick or treat” concept in Britain going back to the 16th century, you can’t expect anyone other than newbie yuppie types to think that it’s just a bit of fun, can you? Of course not. I have to say that personally I don’t think it’s begging because I know that all the children on Farting-In-The Hedges are well fed and well clothed (I know all their mothers because we attend Women’s Institute together.) But that doesn’t mean that anyone else should share my views yet – after all, even after 500 years it’s still early days.

The net result of this is fireworks, fireworks, fireworks! There’s no-one in England who can accuse Farting-In-The-Hedges of being afraid of a Big Bang! We bang away every autumn and love it! Mind you we have a few dissenters which is a shame. Silly people who whine about their livestock and horses and dogs and cats. Why can’t they simply shut their animals away and put plugs in their ears if they don’t like the noise? And why can’t our disabled people who hate bangs just stuff plugs in their ears too?

Holiday jokes on How To Write Better That’s what I do, although I still enjoy watching the lovely sparkling lights. Honestly, I don’t know – what killjoys people can be when they don’t understand what really matters. And I’ll let you into a secret … oh, I really shouldn’t, but OK … just keep this under your hat, OK? In just the last couple of months a certain Percy Sludge and a certain Maureen Sillitoe have been seen, shall we say, canoodling together … emerging from Maureen’s cottage looking smug and smiley … what do you think?

Anyway, although I was worried that Lucy might suspect something with Percy sleeping in the guest room due to excessive gas and sleep apnoea, I reckon she’s just being anxious, don’t you?

And now that the Holidays are upon us, here is every good wish for a wonderful time. Until next year…here’s a little poem I made up just for you lovely people…

Whether you’re from Aberdeen
Alaska or from Abilene
A Philippine or Argentine
A vicar or a closet queen
Here is what I really mean
You have yourselves a truly keen
And happy twenty seventeen.

Farting-In-The-Hedges, England
December 2016


With grateful thanks for the illustrations to…

Maxine, John Wagner and Hallmark Cards
Malc Harding and all other members of my Facebook Group, The Joke Street Journal 
The authors and copyright owners of the cartoons and images in this article – can’t afford to pay but am glad to share your details and links on here. (And don’t forget, it’s the Holidays – so don’t be mean, please.)