It’s that time of year again. I adore it. I really do love those typewritten accounts of how brilliant the children are, how enormously rich their parents are but how sad it was that Granny died.
Sadly, I assume because so many people sneer at the missives, there are not nearly as many as there used to be. But we still get three of them. One has to be put aside immediately because it is a spoof. It is amusing, but it is not the real thing. The other two, however, do have to be treasured.
One really is designed to leave us in no doubt that the author and her husband are gigantically rich and that their child is the most intelligent who ever lived. When it arrives I get pen and paper out to calculate how many exotic holidays the family has had over the year. It’s not a simple calculation. You can miss two or three holidays if you blink as you read the letter. This year, if I have got it right, there were eight holidays. And, to cap it all, the offspring’s GCSE results were probably the best ever achieved by anyone in the history of school examinations. I really am being serious when I say I love that letter.
The other, this year, is more worrying. Usually, it is a dreadfully depressing account of illness and death. But this year it is an attack on all those of us who were so stupid as to vote for Brexit. The author is an elderly retired clergyman. He is, in all respects other than his politics, a saint. He tells us, in this year’s letter, that Brexit is the worst thing that has happened since Suez. He proudly announces that he and his wife took part in a “students'” march nine days after the referendum to complain about the result. But he doesn’t tell us why he is so cross. Indeed, he seems to assume that all who receive his round robin will be bound to agree, without more, with his confident assertion that anyone who doesn’t like the EU is evil.
I find my saintly friend’s fury difficult to understand. I am used to coping with thrusting young people who reckon that money is all that matters in this world and who claim that leaving the EU will leave us poorer than we would otherwise be (most of the fervent remainers come into that category). They may or may not be right (for my own part I think it doesn’t matter that much). But I know that the author of the round robin letter couldn’t care a damn about money. He must, I guess, think there is something intrinsically good about laws generated by unelected foreigners. Maybe he goes so far as to think that laws made by democratically elected British politicians are bound to be bad. But how could he have come to the conclusion that those who favour democracy are necessarily evil?
It is a mystery. But I hope we will continue to get his round robin letter and, maybe, next year it will get back to death and illness and won’t be so political.