National Gallery

Dear Mary,


The stormy days of the summer are over (by decree) and we are to start yet again on an umpteenth clean sheet. It is not so much that I am feeling conciliatory, I wouldn’t admit that even if I was; it is more that I feel the need for a change of sheets. Before this note I had hoped to ignore you for a bit longer. What a frizzle people get into. Silly really. Even now I would rather not write. But Victoria has decreed that I should thank you for your lovely present, which, despite all my considerable efforts to the contrary, I have to like. One does not “mess” with Victoria. The picture stands on my desk at home at the moment but I plan to take it to work. To remind me of home. That reminds me, Victoria has also decreed that I am the leader of the family. She said so quite plainly to Daniel the other day when he asked a relevant question. “no”, she went, “your father is king” So that’s that. No more political correctness.

            So you see, there will be a Gangangite-model-household in Jamaica after all. And from here we (Victoria) is doing everything possible to spread the gospel further. We just had Paul and Adeline over for two wonderful weeks. During those two weeks Victoria deftly took over command with regard to Oscar and “Now-Oscar-darling-there-is-no-need-to-shout,-I-shall-put-you-in-your-roomed him into submission and remarkable contriteness. The result was miraculous: a lovely boy! Roberta was lovely anyway, although she can sometimes be very nasty to her brother. We spent ages discussing parenthood and psychology in meaningful diction, you would have loved it.

            We travelled extensively through Jamaica with them too, showed them all the sights, driving through the wild country-side and waving back at the people at the side of the road who shouted “whiteeeh” as we passed. We drank Cocktails in a very mature and grown-up way on the crest of a mountain overlooking Kingston at sunset. At Ivor’s that was, a place that David and Annabel know well. We went to see the National Art Gallery downtown which, peculiarly, you would have found as depressing as I did: Bad Modern Art. Now, modern art is something I enjoy but you hate. Bad modern art is something I loathe and you, I presume, do not want to differentiate from good modern art. So there, there are areas of agreement even within subjects where we disagree profoundly. Quite a shock really. We drove through some of the poverty here, where we gawked at poverty and poverty gawked back at us; we discussed politics and awfulness.

            During the Christmas dinner at our house on boxing day, Paul attacked the European delegate, Jim Moran, savagely over Europe, accusing Brussels of being nothing less than a Stalinist bureaucracy! All this ostensibly because Paul thinks he is an anti-European, although he later confessed that the more important reason for the attack was that he wanted to consolidate his number one position in your good-books. Jim, unwilling to defend himself and wandering why this had to happen after so much turkey, sat in a stupor, faintly mumbling something about Europe being more Kafka-esque than Stalinesque and looking uncertainly at Paul over the ravaged dinner table and became depressed.  Later we sang songs from the sixties and seventies which Jim accompanied on his guitar. And later still after all but two of the guests had gone home, Paul and I continued the row over Europe furiously, with me taking a disconcertingly Gaullist attitude. It was great fun. But not for long. Suddenly Paul had to excuse himself as he was not feeling at all well. He then fell asleep. The next time I saw Jim, a few days later, I called him Uncle Joseph and he laughed.

            Victoria is very busy, rushing the children from one thing to another, attending PTA meetings and such like. Today she was unanimously voted in as chairman of the “welcoming committee” (whose main task is to familiarise new parents with the school and its machinations) because “she smiles so much”. Thomas is working hard on his physical strength, ploughing through the water with his breast-stroke, for which he won a medal, and digging up the road with his rollerblades. When he is not being strong he reads incessantly, at school he is still an unrepentant day-dreamer. Daniel is drawing lorries, counting seeds and talking wild fantasies to himself. Because of a film we saw recently where the protagonist Buzz Lightyear flies on the command “To infinity and Beyond!” you now hear Daniel interrupt his mysterious whisperings and explosions with the war cry  “To Infinimy and beonnnnn”  Rosie sings to herself, long ballads where the actual words, when she doesn’t know them, are chipped off at the edges to become appropriate noises. So life resumes itself in January with a pleasant 26 degrees, a lovely breeze and countless hummingbirds doing their business with the flowers framing our view of the sea. February has been decreed a no-alcohol month.


Lots of love