Dr. C. Hartley-Brunt and Dr V. Hartley-Brunt

The Old Rectory, The Crescent, Felpersham, Borsetshire, FP1 0AA 



My dear Shula,


So it’s that time of year again! It’s so true what they say, isn’t it, Christmas seems to come around faster every year. It feels like no time at all since Tristan and Daniel, sorry “Dan,” were standing proudly with their scrolls in the Prize Giving and not five minutes since they started at the Cathedral Little School in their tiny school caps and shorts with their unblemished little knees! How vivid they are, my memories of that time as I am sure they are for you.

It is so interesting to hear all about Dan’s travels to The States! How lovely to see how he’s blossomed during his time there and he’s clearly given those Americans a run for their money! He’s been calling in and telling me all about his adventures since his return home. He’s so tall and handsome and…fit…now Shula, you must be so proud of him.  I’m sure he looks fabulous in his stetson and chaps. Just thinking about how gorgeous he’s become has made me blush!

I know Tristan can’t wait to see him when he comes down from Cambridge next week. He’s thinking of joining Dan in Leeds this weekend straight from there, as I’m sure he’s told you. I’m sure Tris will enjoy the stories that Dan feels are too racy even for me! Isn’t it awkward, darling, when one’s son’s friends suddenly start treating one as a confidante? I have often suggested to him that perhaps you might like him to spend some time at home but he seems quite happy here having a beer or two by the fire with me in the evenings.It’s so cosy and we are so convenient here for all the bars and restaurants, of course.

Anyway, this is just a little note to invite you and Alistair to our usual pre-Christmas drinks, the Saturday before Christmas. 7.30 for 8. And do bring that little friend of yours too, what’s his name, Darryl or Darren, is it? I’ve heard all about him from Dan. Shula I hope you don’t mind me saying this: that Darren does seem rather to have taken over your life. After all, you and I haven’t lunched for simply ages. And I do hope that our long friendship can withstand that little blip-ette of our withdrawing Stairmaster from livery. Your friend Darren really did spook him the other day and I thought it was for the best. Sabrina Thwaite was really quite overcome with horror when she described how Darren ran at Stairy, screaming like some sort of Banshee – did you know she was one of my post-grads? Sabrina will be at the party, darling, and she always says that she’s terribly fond of Alistair. I’m sure that she can keep him occupied while you look after Darren. I assume he has black tie? If not, perhaps Alistair could lend him a bow tie and he could be one of the waiters. Haha. Just my little jokey, sweetie!

I caught sight of you in town with him the other day, darling, and I simply could not believe my eyes. I had to look closely to make sure it was you! You were looking, well, rather dishevelled, if I’m honest. If you’d like something new to wear, I’ve got plenty of things I’ve hardly worn that no longer fit me since my diet. I am sure they would suit your new curves, Shula. Don’t be too proud to ask, my dear friend: I too have been a martyr to self-medication with food, sweetie, in my time.

A word to the wise, Shula: Dan and I, and Charles too, think it is high time you sought some professional help for your little problem with Darryl/Darren. Wasn’t that motorcycling Vicar of yours an expert in helping homeless people with mental health issues? I know his wife, dear, beautiful Usha. We’ve had coffee several times lately. In fact, they live in Ambridge too, don’t they darling? Right there on your doorstep. I urge you to go and seek their advice and advocacy. I am sure they have more experience with this sort of problem than you. I am sorry if I have spoken out of turn.

Anyway, I must dash. I still have dozens of cards and invitations to write and the final arrangements with the caterers. I do hope that we shall see you all in a couple of weeks.

Much love








Venetia Hartley-Brunt