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Friends Near and Far

Christmas cards are arriving thick and fast now, adding to the jolly seasonal custom of guessing who they’re from.

“Gary and Peggy?”

“You know who they are.  California, remember?”

“When, and where?”

“San Francisco, three years ago, Bill’s wedding.  We sat at the same table.”

“The names don’t ring any bells.”

“He was tall, dark, balding, loud voice.  She was blonde and tiny. Very attractive, you kept saying.”

“Oh, her!  Yes, very nice, too.  Great legs, though why she was with him, I couldn’t work out.  What did he do for a living?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Context, dear, context.”

“Well, I don’t remember, banker, I think, or real estate, or oil.”

“Never mind.  Okay, who’s Charlie Mahon?”

“Charlie Mahon.  Nice chap.  You chatted to him at the Business Guild dinner last year.”

“I did?”

“Yes, short with reddish hair, Irish, big nose.  You said he might be a good contact for rugby tickets.”

“Oh, him!  I doubt he’ll ever come through.  Send a return card, though, just in case.”

“I can’t.  I don’t where he lives.”

“Who are all these people, in the photograph?”

“What people?”

“Swaddled in ski gear, in front of a mountain, two adults, five kids and three giant dogs – or maybe they’re wolves.”

“That’s the Finkels, from Connecticut.  Remember them?  They lived in that huge house with a lake on Woodchuck Lane.  We went for cocktails once.  One of the dogs bit a guest.  He had to be taken to the hospital.” 

“The dog or the guest?”

“I’ll send them a card.  I’m sure their address is in my book.”

“Why bother?  We haven’t seen them in donkey’s years.”

“But I always liked her.  He was a bore, but she was charming.  What was her name?”

“If you can’t remember, what’s the point?

“Just to stay in touch.  The kids look so grown up.”

“Well they would, after fifteen years.”

“Well I never, we’ve had a card from the Pendergasts, after all this time.”

“The who?  Or is that a what?”

“Come on, now, the Pendergasts, from Boston.  Very nice, elderly couple we met on the Nile cruise.”

“The Nile!  That was ten years ago.”

“Actually twenty.  Ah, there’s a letter. They say they may be in London next summer, if her arthritis can stand the travel, and we should have dinner.”

“We should live so long.  They probably won’t.  They must be ninety-something by now.”

“Did you see the card from the Grimms, with a long letter?”

“I didn’t bother to read it.  Usually it’s like wading through a year’s worth of the births, deaths and marriages column in the Times.”

“Ellie got married, to a stockbroker, old Aunt Gladys died.”

“As I was saying ….”

“A nice card from the Crandons.  They won’t be coming for Boxing Day.  They’ll be in Barbados.”

“Well that makes it ten years in a row.”

“Oh dear, Uncle Sid’s been very ill.”

“With what?”

“Just old age, poor devil, it can’t be too long now.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, but it’ll be one card saved, cantankerous old skinflint.”

“Y’know, you ought to get more into the spirit.”

“Good idea, I’ll have a scotch.”

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