Monday, 20 December 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em - The Bennett Family Round Robin 2010

Oh, dear God - as if it wasn't bad enough that Christmas Recess starts again tomorrow, I'd forgotten that it's the time of year when normally-reasonable friends lose their minds - not to mention all sense of decency.

What is the point of round robins? My in-box is rapidly filling up with them and, to make matters worse, the postman hands me five more of the damned things as I pass him on my way into work this morning.

I read them as soon as I sit down at my desk but, by the time I've finished, I wish I hadn't bothered. Why doesn't anyone ever admit to any failures during the preceding year? And don't they know it's bad manners to boast?

Greg spots my expression and asks me what's up.

"Round robins," I say. "I never have a clue what to say in reply, seeing as it's not as if I've I got anything impressive to report. And, as for the kids, it's probably a case of the less said the better - at least where Josh is concerned."

"Well, you could always try doing a truthful version," says Greg. "Treat it like Writing Honest Letters hour."

So, in the absence of any better suggestions, here's the Bennett Family Round Robin for Christmas 2010:

Dear All,

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year to you! Or to those of you who don't flaunt your good fortune in the faces of the rest of us, anyway.

Many unexciting changes have occurred in the Bennett household during 2010. There has been a marked decrease in the level of marital sexual activity, even from the baseline set by last year's record low. This may or may not be due to Max having an affair - either with Ellen, our nymphomaniac neighbour, or with an irritatingly faun-like colleague with a penchant for red wine. 

As revenge, I may or may not be having an affair with Johnny Hunter - an International Director of a Global Oil Company who bears an unnerving resemblance to Vladimir Putin. This has not, however, led to any significant increase in my sexual activity, unless you count the virtual kind. (Which most of the time I don't.)

When not stalking my husband, or typing emails to Johnny, I continue to grow an increasingly-convincing beard, and am still dressed almost entirely by Primark, mainly in their thermal underwear. Both these factors may, I suppose, be contributing to the above-mentioned lack of sex.

With regard to the kids: Connie and Josh remain locked in sibling rivalry, and united only by their sense of having been utterly failed by their parents. Connie is spending this year working as an underpaid and overworked intern; has been dumped by her chilli-fetishist boyfriend, and continues to struggle with the definition of normal behaviour. Not to mention with the concept of flexi-time.

Meanwhile, Josh has managed to fail almost all his A-levels and now has a job that seems entirely without prospects, unless you count the odd free cinema ticket. His skateboarding abilities have not improved at all, and nor have his skills in the martial arts. He continues to visit Accident & Emergency rather more often than we would like, though the orthopaedics department always enjoy hearing how his injuries were caused.

As far as my working life goes, I have had no pay rise, no promotion, and no recognition whatsoever, though I do apparently have the distinction of being possibly the lowest-paid member of staff on the House of Commons payroll. I am fully expecting to be replaced by a younger model as soon as The Boss can think of a good enough excuse to get rid of me. 

Max has no sympathy for those of us working in the public sector, however - having had to take two pay cuts during this year alone. He has also ceased to earn any commission, due to the fact that no-one is actually buying any furniture, though this has not discouraged him from spending more and more time at work. Or, at least, that's where he claims to be spending it.

Mum has broken her wrist; had a nasty fall while unaccountably wearing no pants, and has accumulated at least seven more side tables since last year, while Ted continues to enjoy fishing and to avoid lengthy telephone calls like the plague. 

Dad is currently unmarried, though we do not expect this situation to last much longer. Stepmother Mark IV seems likely to be an inappropriately young woman called Porn-Poon, who apparently finds the physiques of seventy-five year old men irresistible. Dad is sure that this has nothing to do with the size of their pensions, or the attractions of a British passport.

Stepmothers Mark I, II and III remain very glad to have divorced Dad and are trying to avoid taking offence at his claims that all the women in the UK are now "too old" for him. 

Sister Dinah remains committed to smoking, swearing, and not listening to a word I say; whilst idiot brother Robin continues to preach compassion while exercising very little of it in practice. He is currently wrestling with the difficult decision of whether to become a Buddhist monk or a rap artist. 

The Labour Party has had its own problems with siblings during the recent leadership election, and the result remains a subject of considerable ill-natured debate within Northwick *CLP. The general public seem less bothered, probably because the ConDems have, of course, been running the country since the General Election. This has made a nice change, as at least it means that there is someone other than the Labour Party to blame for all the things that constituents complain about.

Talking of constituents, the ratio of sane to insane enquiries has definitely taken a turn for the worse, and it has not yet been possible to work out whether the proposed boundary changes will improve or worsen matters. My colleague, Greg, is confident that the detonation of a nuclear bomb over Easemount would alleviate the problem, but has not yet succeeded in obtaining one. His enthusiasm for the project remains undiminished, however.

Meanwhile, The Boss has become convinced that everyone in the Party is out to get him and, if he continues to allow paranoia to dictate his behaviour, this may well prove to be the case - though there is likely to be heated debate as to who will be allowed to take the first shot. I suspect that his wife may decide to render any such discussion academic, if a certain intern isn't soon given her marching orders.

So, all in all, 2010 has been a year of considerable highs and lows. While the lowest of these may well have been the significant birthday I supposedly celebrated back in May, the greatest highlight was undoubtedly surviving anthrax poisoning, and the usual suspects' attempts at strangulation. 

We do hope that all is going as well for you and yours as it is for us, and look forward to seeing you all in 2011.

Lots of love from
Molly, Max, Connie and Josh (Bennett).

Greg says this should do the trick - if having an improved social life is not one of my New Year resolutions. On the basis of the last two events I've attended, this is a risk I'm more than prepared to take.

*CLP - Constituency Labour Party. A rather motley crew, not known for their combined senses of humour.


  1. Well, if it's any consolation, discovering this blog has been one of my little joys in 2010. May 2011 bring more strife if we can all continue to enjoy it so much :)

  2. Aw, thanks - so my labours aren't entirely in vain, then?!

  3. May I also say that reading this blog is something I look forward to on a daily basis.
    At about 11ish I make myself a cup of coffee and take a break to read it.
    Have a lovely Christmas and possibly a stress free 2011, though I doubt it!! xx

  4. Thank you very much ;-) And have a good Christmas yourself, too!

  5. As with Ruthy59 a chap's MWC reading will usually begin around 11. But at night. Plus accompanying beverage will include much alcohol. Which is a roundabout way of apologising for the often incomprensible nature of comments.

    More of the same in 2011 please Bennett.

    ps The Piers year in detail: started slowly; petering out.

  6. Are you saying you need to be drunk to face reading about my life, Piers?! Have horrible suspicion there will be more of the same in 2011, if that's any comfort ;-)

  7. Nooo. But occasionally get up in the morning ...

    ... whoops, drifted off there. I mean: occasionally get up in the morning AND carry heavy burden of potential guilt about what kind of tripe I might have written the night before (even if it isn't tripe have desperate hope that nobody was maimed by an over-the-limit metaphor).

    Believe google has a drunk filter that stops you sending nonsense late at night (tracks keyboard stutters rather than operating as internet breathalyser).

    One other wish for MWC in 2011: that you continue to engage with your readers – so many do not, or do so rarely. Now where's that bottle of Algerian bellywash ...

  8. Molly,
    I love you.
    Wish I had the courage to send a round robin like.....

  9. I should have signed off:
    Devoted fan.
    Oh, and a Very Merry Christmas.

  10. Thank you VERY much - and a happy belated Christmas to you too!