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Letter to America

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Dear Daniel,

You would not BELIEVE the amount of confusion and fuss going on over my brother's wedding. I will ignore the media, who are in full cry about his falling in love with his catering manager. The response from the country has been lovely, very supportive, with people sending nice gifts that of course must be gone through by the bomb squad (who, I am certain, eat all the edible ones themselves) before being put into an annotated list by the staff so that the givers will all receive embossed thank-you cards. The non-explosive and non-edible gifts are to be donated to appropriate charities. Natalie had the brilliant thought of sorting the gifts by post-code and then making sure they were sent to the opposite end of the country from whence they came, so that there wouldn't be a chance that some sweet granny might find her present had actually been given to that person down the street whom she cannot stand.

Although the Archbishop was holding out for a ceremony in the Abbey, David and Natalie have decided to have a registry office ceremony, followed by a reception for immediate family (hers and us and a few extras only), followed by a series of huge parties. I am so grateful that David has a staff to arrange these things. I'm sorry you and Sam will miss it, but it will be while you are still in America. It appears to be doing wonders for the economy, between the tourism and the souvenirs, though I could wish the popular portraits on teacups and so on were a bit more flattering.

And how is your visit to Sam's sweetheart's family going? I met her mother last year at one of the school events, and if the rest of the family is even half as smart and fun as she was, you must be having a great time over there. I look forward to hearing all about it from you, so I will be suitably prepared before Sam makes his 'what I did on my holiday' report at school.

You asked to be kept up to date on things here this summer, so let me try to do that. Mia, who was Harry's assistant, has moved on and has been replaced by a sweet girl named Judy, or, "Just Judy" as she says, who is everything one would wish for in a publisher's administrative assistant -- personable, intuitive, organized and able to read Harry's terrible handwriting. She's recently married, and I look forward to meeting her husband at the next publishing house party.

Do you remember Sarah from Harry's office, the editor who had that hopeless crush on another editor for so long? I think I recall you being at her brother's funeral in February; terribly sad situation, that was, though I can't help thinking it was a mercy that he simply died in his sleep, considering the number of times that he made suicide threats, from what I've heard. Heart gave out, apparently. It's been a few months, and now Sarah has started to see Mark something, the gallery director who runs the place where we had our holiday party last year. I think she said she'd actually met him for the first time at a wedding where he was a photographer. I can't speak for him, first because I don't know him and second because he has one of those faces where the expression is all eyes and nothing else *moves*, but she has a warm sunny glow about her now, and I'd swear happiness is all but making her hair curl. I do hope it all works out nicely for her. When I spoke with her yesterday she said they were going to be getting together at a pub with Mark's best friend and his wife. I was at the office dropping something off for Harry, and I noticed Karl (the other editor) watching her with a bleak expression on his face that he hid immediately when he realized anyone was noticing. I can't help thinking that he should have made his move back when she didn't have eyes for anyone but him.

I saw your Carol at the market; she told me she and Tommy are putting together a surprise for when you and Sam return. Did you know that Tommy is in the same class with Daisy? No, my lips are sealed; you'll just have to come back and see it for yourself. I will give you one hint: it does not involve a lobster costume.

Speaking of surprises, I can't think what that odd character who brings around sandwiches at Harry's office did on his holiday. He has returned to handing out sandwiches, accompanied by one of the most beautiful American women I've ever seen. She quite made Karl's eyes pop out, and I won't repeat Harry's comment. From what I gather, she and her sisters are visiting here on some version of a gap year. Just Judy gave her the contact info for the small company she used to work for, after some discussion of suitability to which I did not listen in (no, really, I was only there for a moment as I had to run Daisy over to the library) and it may be that we shall be seeing them onscreen in some fashion in some sort of specialized documentary, which is what Just Judy said the company made. It sounds a little dodgy to me, but what do I know about the film business?

We had dinner with Jamie and Aurelia last week. I love her sense of humor; she's very good at making our sober Jamie laugh. She says she fell in love with him when he was driving her back home after work every day, but he says he fell in love when she dived into the pond to rescue some of his manuscript that had blown away. At least they had the sense not to choose some badly reworked piece of rock music as "their song", such as the one Billy Mack recycled last year. I don't suppose you hear Billy Mack much in America, do you? You probably have better things to listen to than his latest recycling effort -- who else would dare to turn Positively Fourth Street into Positively Summer? But I do think he has more fun being bad than anyone else I've ever seen. And what's the point if you can't have some fun with it? His manager must be a very patient man, though.

So looking forward to seeing you again and hearing all about the trip. It's two more weeks, right? You lucky man, it's such a good thing architecture can be done from anywhere. I envy you being able to take the summer abroad. Maybe when the children are older, or at least when my big brother is not telling the American President where to get off. There seems to be some joke about that between him and Natalie, but I'm not asking.

Do let us know when your flight is, so we can meet you at the airport and bring you home in style -- they don't really feed you on those flights, do they? I'll pack sandwiches.