It was all very jolly. We all converged upon John Lewis in Norwich at noon. The Sage and I left home after Dilly and the children, but their car was behind ours in the car park queue. The Sage got out to go and meet his sister, Juniper, and I went to park. I thought I’d try the lower ground level first, as sometimes there’s a space which people don’t spot as one has to go there specially. A woman was just stowing her purchases in her car, so I waited. And as I waited, along came Ro, on his lunch break. I parked and we went upstairs, and on the first floor (this is the second floor as far as you’re concerned, dear TransAtlanticeans) we met Dilly, Squiffany and Pugsley. Up the escalator and there were the Sage and Juniper and, as we pushed together three tables to sit together, along came Weeza and Zerlina. Juniper hadn’t expected quite such a gathering of the clan and sat down on the Stilton which was her Christmas present.
We had a lovely time. Juniper cuddled Zerlina and was rewarded with smiles and Squiffany chatted to her in a friendly manner. She has two grandchildren herself, aged 11 and 6 and she always rents a cottage near her daughter, where her son and his partner stay too over the holiday.
Our niece’s husband died suddenly in November last year, and then she and her brother were both ill at Christmas (in a D&V way) so they had an entirely miserable time. On the anniversary of Jonathan’s death, she and the children wrote messages on helium balloons, took them to the cemetery and sent them aloft for Daddy, which cheered up the children a great deal. One of the daughter’s schoolfriends lost her father this year suddenly, at the age of only 41, so young E feels for him, but is comforted somewhat, though no less sympathetic, by knowing that she no longer stands out as the only one to be pitied.