Letter 13

28/12/2012 17:20

        25th December 2012


        Dear Catherine,

Today is proper Christmas Day and I am still in the cottage by myself.  I am sitting at the table again, just having lit the fire and I am drinking a coffee and eating a tatranky biscuit – remember them, wafer with chocolate – nice.  I would love if you could have been here too but of course that is impossible.  After lunch Brendan will be coming with his family to join me.  So my peace & quietness will be broken.  But not to worry, I have had time enough on my own.  I always find this the best place to think clearly about life, away from the rush of life in London.

I haven’t mentioned Veronica, Mark & Brendan’s children to you yet.  First of all my eldest, Veronica, who is married to Jonathan, lives in Belfast and has three children, Sarah (12), James (10) & Daniel (5).  You may remember Sarah and when James was born, you & I flew over to Belfast to see them.  They are all coming here to join me this Friday.  Next is Mark, who lives in Melbourne with his wife Vicki and his children Aisha (10), Joel (8) & Caelan (4).  They phoned a few moments ago to wish me a happy Christmas.  Then there is Brendan, who lives near Prague with his wife Iveta and children Amadea (7) & Chloe (3). They are coming here tomorrow, so I am looking forward to company.  Zara who is unmarried, lives near me in Harrow, is aged 24.  I know that if you knew her you would love her and I hope you do get to meet her soon. She volunteers at Northwick Park hospital radio at the moment and has three slots during the week, which you could listen to. 

I explained, in a previous letter, how I felt about leaving 35 Northwick Avenue; well it must have been deeper felt than I thought, as I have found it difficult to get down to looking for another place of my own.  Since September, when the house was sold, I have walked past 35 Northwick Avenue (which I haven’t done for nearly 4 years) with a feeling of emptiness and unease. This had been my home since 1982, over 30 years.  There are the happy memories and sad memories attached to that house, but mostly it is the fact that you are not now living there that shapes my feelings.  I have been living in a room in a house, sharing a bathroom with 4 others, feeling settled, but it only made sense as long as you were living at no 35.  Thinking about this even sounds strange to me, but it is true.  The only reason I left the house was so that you could continue your life with as little disruption as possible.  Now the reason that I thought was important is no longer there; and I found it difficult to move on.  I rang the estate agent in frustration with myself a month ago, but all he sent me was a series of unsatisfactory properties, without any effort to try and find something that might suit me.  In fact that was the last I heard from him!  So was I going to live in an unsatisfactory environment forever?  I knew it was up to me to do something.  I have always been independent, not lazy and certainly never moaning that life has been bad to me!

Then I had a stroke of good fortune.  As your guardian angel looks after you, I know that mine does too, God inspired, yet not if I sit on my ‘ass’, waiting for something to happen!  I hope you understand this!  I did some drawings for a couple in Harrow that wanted to move from a first floor flat to the ground floor flat in the same house and build a rear extension.  I didn’t ask why, just did the drawings and submitted them to the council.  But there was a complication with this arrangement, which I won’t bother to explain; and the couple were not able to sell the first floor flat, with sufficient funds to buy out the ground floor.  The drawings I had done were to add an extension to the ground floor, but there was an impasse.  The builder had to stop work.  When I discussed it with him, I told him I was looking for a flat and the idea took hold that maybe I could even buy the first floor flat!  I knew the loft over was more than high enough for a loft extension, fitting into the profile of property I was looking for.  Last Tuesday I made an offer for the flat. On Thursday we agreed a price and shook hands.  I phoned my bank to arrange a mortgage, a solicitor to arrange the conveyancing and a surveyor to check the property.  All within a few days!  And the builder agreed to build the loft extension at the same time as building the rear extension for the ground floor.  As I sit here I am happy, praying that this will all work out.  But I just wanted to tell you my good news!

Now, I would just like to wish you a very Happy Christmas.  As I always do, I sent you a Christmas card, with a little card about your guardian angel looking after you, which I also sent for your birthday, but it was returned!  I imagine that this will probably not get to you, but my thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with you.  And also best wishes for 2013.  I hope it will be a great year for you, with all good things coming to you.  I know you are doing your GCSE’s in the coming summer, so I hope you can put in the effort that I know you have to do well.   

I’m afraid I must sign off for now, but I will try and write again soon.  As always, I know you will not see this, but it makes me feel closer to you writing and maybe someday!

        All my love for now,


        dad  xxx                                                                            in Vysoke, Czech Republic