Thursday, 29 October 2009

Seasonal Suicide Notes: Roger Lewis

Gosh, this blog has performed more comebacks than any number of wrinkly pop stars or botoxed celebs. But here it is again, after a long hiatus resulting from my father's death last November which, as well as being sad, caused no end of medico-legal problems and my assumption of full-time care for my mother, a victim of Alzheimer's disease. After this long silence, I'll probably just be talking to myself but what the hell. I've had stupider conversations recently.

However, I've been considerably cheered up by the reviews of Seasonal Suicide Notes: My Life as it is Lived by Roger Lewis, an academic, journalist and sometime-notorious biographer. Here's one review that particularly creased me up and convinced me to buy at the earliest opportunity. Seasonal Suicide Notes looks like a book-length spoof of those smug, boastful round robin letters that plop dismayingly on your doormat every Christmas. Except that it isn't - the book is composed of genuine missives that the recipients persuaded Roger Lewis to publish: funny, vitriolic and oh-so-true to life as it's really lived. I was especially tickled by Mrs Lewis's experience in a TK Maxx changing room during a Two-Minutes' Silence.

A few Christmases ago, I got so irritated by these self-regarding incitements to envy that I composed a spoof round robin from Cuthbertson Acres. It was a catalogue of Dickensian misfortune which had us bankrupted in a scam moneymaking scheme and our offspring variously involved in drug-running/people-smuggling/unspeakable terrorist outrages, instead of becoming top lawyers/doctors/scientists/Booker-winning novelists. Sadly, I chickened out of sending it on the grounds that the recipients would either take offence at being sent up or, having no sense of the absurd, would have been only too willing to believe it.

And I wouldn't want that, would I?


Marg said...

Welcome back Sarah! Look forward to hearing more from you if life permits. Sorry to hear about your family issues.

Carla said...

Welcome back, and I'm sorry to hear of your family troubles.

The book sounds blackly hilarious. I wonder when the round-robin letter became popular? I don't remember them at all when I was a kid. Simon Hoggart used to publish a jaw-droppingly awful selection of real ones from his acquaintances (with the names changed, I hope) in his column in the Saturday Grauniad. I'm still sufficiently Luddite to write old-fashioned letters at Christmas.

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Thank you, Marg! I hope to catch up with everyone's blog posts that I've missed.

Carla, thank you! I don't remember round robins before about 10-15 years ago. I admire you for writing proper Christmas letters. I'm afraid mine tend to be a few lines on the inside of the card, but at least they're geared to what might interest the individual recipients.

Gayle M said...

Hi, I just found your blog in my wanderings. You write wonderfully-- I'm eager to see what's coming next. Welcome back, although I obviously didn't know you were gone...okay, that sounds odd. You know what I mean. I have a blog, too, but I'll bother you about that another time. Keep writing!
On this post:
I'm not sure what a "round robin" is, being an American, but I think it's one of those awful form letters people send out at holidays? e.g.,"We're enjoying our lovely year in Tuscany, and still quivering with excitement over Jessica's acceptance letter to Harvard..." I hate those, too.

Once again, welcome back.

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Hello, Gayle and thanks for visiting my blog. I've just been reading yours and can see I shall have to keep visiting as my Shakespeare is sadly neglected of late. You have lots of interesting things to say!

You're quite right about what a "round robin" is, by the way. So you have them in the USA too? I don;t know how or when they started but I wish they'd die out.

Gayle M said...

Hi Sarah--Yes, we have them here--but I suspect that they may be more popular in the UK. I base this on the fact that the majority of the ones I've received have been from British friends/acquaintances. And that you have an actual term for these, and I don't think we do. People here tend to not write much on cards and the like. More visually-oriented (one hesitates to say less literate, but there it is). Whenever I get one, I always wonder why they don't just make up a brochure--with fancy typefonts and lots of color pictures. Like an advertisement, which is what those letters sound like, anyway.

Thanks for reading my blog--I'm happy to have found yours! Good luck with the novel--I've no talent for fiction, myself, but would love to see what some of these one-month-wonders look like.