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The hives thrive. and we might even get some honey from them this year, contrary to expectations.  Mind you, if we do,  the Sellafield Charity Snowball committee members have first dibs on it, because they’re the people who funded the bees – so you plebs will just have to wait your turn.

If you’d like to come up and see the hives when they’re being tended, just give us a ring – we have bee-keeping suits in ALL sizes …

Right, enough of the fun stuff and on to boring adminy-clerical stuff.

The Autumn Newsletter is printed and ready to roll,  and as usual Gretchen’s long-suffering family are labouring away at the coalface folding and stuffing and peeling and sticking.

I personally think it’s a cunning plan on her part to make sure they never, ever come near the place again.  Thus far, it doesn’t seem to be working because we’e been doing this to them for YEARS and they just keep coming back for more.

All that expensive education straight down the tubes …

If it’s coming up Easter, it must be Centre Newsletter time … which is why I’ve been unusually quiet recently (for me, anyway).

Filling four A4 sides with witty, incisive, grammatically acceptable and reasonably accurate twaddle is time-consuming, eye-crossing and generally not conducive to bonhomie.  In fact, deploying a whimsically light touch for 3,500 words is the fast track to homicidal tendencies.  It’s no wonder so many comedians are manic-depressives.

On the plus side, the dehumidifier has worked a treat.  (Did I mention the dehumidifier?  We had to get one because the place was so damp, the photocopier was producing copies with neat marcel waves – if it deigned to produce them at all.  When we turned on the dehumidifier, it was sucking so much water out of the atmosphere, we were afraid we might be triggering climate change …).  Anyway – the water-sucker-outer worked and the photocopier churned out 2,500 double-sided A3 copies plus 2,500 double-sided A4 copies with scarcely a bleat of protest and not a curl in sight.  An army of volunteers has been (and still is) folding, stuffing and sticking – so if you’re on our mailing list, one should be arriving on a doormat near you very shortly, unless you’ve requested the electronic version – in which case it should, by now, be in your inbox.  Except we know that some of them haven’t arrived.  We know this because we got them back.  Dozens of the perishers.

We’re working on it – but if you’re down to receive the e-newsletter and it hasn’t materialized your end yet – could you please let us know?  We’re also getting the first flurry of replies from people who can’t OPEN the attachments because they’re Word 2007.  If you need it in Word 97-2003 – let us know and we’ll convert it for you.

On the other hand, I could just write it all out, personally, in longhand.  It might be faster.


I’ve just spent all morning setting up an email mailing list for our Autumn/Winter newsletter, and of the 69 newsletters and enclosures I sent off, fifteen have bounced straight back.

Yours, through the tears,


About two-thirds of the newsletters have now been sent out (courtesy of the aforementioned Child Labour) and we’re hoping that the remainder will be in the hands of the Royal Mail by tomorrow, if two volunteers appear as half-promised. They’re due to materialize some time this afternoon bearing 12 boxes and two bags of jumble from a friendly dentist. She periodically has a frenzied house blitz, rings up the incredibly patient Pete and Margaret and then leaves the resultant gleanings in poor Pete’s garage, where he works on his car. At least, he works on his car when he can actually reach it.

Anyway, they said they’d stay and stuff newsletters for a while …

For anyone who’d like to read the newsletter but isn’t on our mailing list, it’s HERE. The most recent can be read via the link at the top of the page, and the back issues are listed towards the bottom. Some of them are very LONG … I tend to waffle a bit. Sorry (just not very).

The newsletter’s written for better or ill … and my mother informs me that it’s “quite good” – which is high praise indeed coming from The Matriarch, so I can sleep nights again.

As I type this, it’s printing. Now all we need to do is send it out, and it’s at this juncture that I should, perhaps, point out the foolishness of printing 3,000 copies of a newsletter in August because in August, the world and his wife are on holiday. (I know this, of course, because a sizeable proportion of them are trying to End It All on the corner at the bottom of the drive … QV.) I am not on holiday, you’ll have noticed, but everyone else is … So what’s the answer?


I’m honestly surprised that Gretchen’s grandchildren come anywhere near this place. Ever since Adam and Isaac arrived here they’ve been doing virtually nothing but sticking labels on envelopes, sticking stamps on envelopes and shoving newsletters in envelopes. What’s more their shameless and neglectful parents left them here in full knowledge that it would happen.

I always knew children had to be good for something.

Let me speak to you of newsletters.

Every charitable organization and its distant cousin produces a newsletter. Most of them are turgid, tedious and unreadable – which is why they never get read.

Be honest now — when did you last read all the way through the latest edition of The Gerbil Adoption Society Gossipsheet or whatever?


Not within living memory.

Well, I have to tell you that people DO read mine – all the way through. Then they go back to the beginning and read them again. More than that, they keep them, carefully preserved in clear plastic pockets, for posterity. I know this, because they’ve told me so. How frightening is that? Preserved for posterity in clear plastic pockets . . . :shock:

This slightly unsettling state of affairs came about because writing the Centre newsletters was boring me to tears:

“On Saturday the 23rd, Gertie Peasbody will be talking to the Ingrowing Toenail Self-Help Group about 50 Interesting Things to do with Cotton Buds.” …

And so it was that, motivated purely by self-interest, I started writing it to amuse myself – and ended up amusing everyone else to such an extent that the bloody thing has developed something very close to a cult following.

This is all fine and dandy, but it means that each Newsletter has to at LEAST attain the standard of the last and I’ve left it a bit late in life to develop performance anxiety …

All of which drivel is leading up to the fact that I’m drafting the Autumn Newsletter. Or, rather, I would be if coming over here and writing this hadn’t suddenly seemed like a much more attractive idea.

Mental blank? WHO has a mental blank?


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