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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Correspondence with a vagabond

This email came to me under the Subject Header 'Return of the prodigious son'. My revenge for his Biblical illiteracy (bordering on heresy) is to post the entire correspondence here. It serves him right! Needless to say, it is entirely in jest (especially the bit on Catholics) but some things better be spelt out clearly for posterity - or 'prosperity' as he would prefer.

Dear Denis and Tracey,

I've not been in touch for quite a while," Maxie Cooper, Maxie Cooper..." as we Catholics might say.  

   Maxie Cooper indeed! Generally I have nothing to do with Catholics. Life is much more pleasant that way, but I'll make an exception just this once. I thought you must have dropped off the edge of the planet, but it seems you have only been doing insignificant things like getting the fourth of your progeny off your hands halfway across it instead. Too bad you had to go so far afield to do that, as I know that in spite of the genes on their father's side, these girls are lovely creatures. I trust you got a goodly price for her even though you had to bargain with a Pom, and that the Ashes were at least part of the deal. No? 

   Oh well. I guess we may have to retrieve them by playing test cricket then, which at the moment seems a rather hazardous enterprise. They must have given you hell over there about fluking an Ashes win twice in a row. I trust you trashed a pub or two in Soho maintaining Australian sporting dignity.

   At any rate, very good to know that you are both back safe and sound after contact with the northern hemisphere barbarians.

We went overseas for a month in mid January, largely to see my fourth daughter marry a nice English boy, in London, and as she's the second of my daughters to do so, one assumes that surely the supply of nice English boys must now be exhausted. 

   I'd say so, but should he become troublesome you can at least batter the lad into submission if she lures him out to the colonies at some stage. Or she can do it herself, coming from a Rugby family and all.

During that time I have thought of you often, and at one point planned to send you a postal-type card from the Loire Valley, but my phone book, by definition and not too surprisingly, contains phone numbers, not addresses. So now I shall, first chance I get, bestrew the table with a selection of postal-type cards, and let you choose your own! How tacky is that!!?

   I think it is an excellent idea, given some of the French postcards you've collected in your time. We might have a viewing out of eyeshot of the women. Then again you might cleverly confuse the issue with a smattering of Sound of Music type postcards or wineries along the Loire. After all, Europe is pretty much the same wherever you go, isn't it? Vienna, Ibeza, what's the diff?

I have been reading your terrific blog, Denis, and am pleased that you are feeling and operating better, you do deserve to. 

   Thanks old buddy. It has been a bit of a struggle at times, and the Dex has blown my body up like a balloon, as you shall sadly see. I can't believe how deeply it affects one's body chemistry, but you will have to put up with the frightening reality of a fat partially thatched cripple who vaguely resembles a Chinese court eunuch of the early twentieth century to greet you. You know the ones - though I hasten to point out that in any other respect the similarity ends right there, buster. Any snide remarks about my manhood will end in a spelling contest, so do not press the point. As it were.

   No doubt if it weren't for the Avastin I wouldn't be around now, but it has been doing its job so far. I can't say how long for. The chance of brain aneurysm is ever-present but we live with that, and so far so good. Of more concern is the 'half-life' factor of the Avastin, but we live with that too and fortify my anti-angiogenic strength with natural foods that we hope are having a positive effect. Nothing like beetroot on Weetbix soaked in 2004 Coonawarra Cab Sav for brekkie. I mean, really. There's nothing like it!

So then, would you like a visit from JNH sometime in the not-too-distant future? 

I don't know about 'like', but we'll bravely cope with it, I guess....  :) You do know, don't you, that Moxon's Bakery does an excellent carrot cake?

I recall that, following my return from Europe in 2010, you deemed it wise to delay such a visit until whatever exotic bugs I might have imported had had time to disperse. Maybe that is still the best plan. We've been home for ten days now, in case that piece of information is relevant. Anyhow, do let me know, and I shall act accordingly.

   I think if you don't have large black spots all over your dissolute frame or any body parts falling off unexpectedly when you're in a fit of uncontrollable sneezing, we may safely assume that you will not be bringing any sort of foreign plague with you. This is not a reference to the au pair who so regularly seems to arrive on the same return flight as you.

   I think it must be four months or so since we set eyes on your homely but not totally unwelcome visage. Let's try for a little later in the week. My social secretary is not up yet; clearly I have not been beating her enough but have to await a little more physiotherapy on the right arm before I attempt that, or the tables (or a kitchen chair) may be turned on me. That as you will know is not good for the maintenance of authority in the household, especially if a failed attempt at any show of brute force is directed at she who fills one's weekly box of medications. It would be like living in the household of Octavian's mother, so I observe diplomacy and caution. I will consult her and see how you may fit into my heavy schedule of sleeping punctuated by short periods of somewhat manic consciousness. You may already have noticed the latter.

   Oh well, you asked for it. I expect you'll be wanting coffee as well. Is there no limit to the demands of retired galloping Pro-consuls? I'll check with the kitchen staff as to its availability when the secretarial skirt is exchanged for the cook's frou-frou. The coffee's availability I mean. Staff in frou-frou garb do not mingle with the hoi poloi.


I, Claudius Denarius

PS I am breaking etiquette and all the bounds of common decency by posting this letter in its entirety on my blog. If you do not veto it within two minutes of my hitting the SEND button, I will assume that silence signifies consent. (I learnt this technique from the way resource companies write their development applications.)

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