Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Round Robins And Positive Spin

I generally receive only one round robin at Christmas time, now. I met the woman who sends it to me, on just a few occasions, and thought her quite pleasant. I was surprised when she began sending me round robins, after she moved abroad, with her husband and daughter. I was taken aback to discover how much of a snob she seemed to be and to realise how crucial it was to her, to convince a mere acquaintance, that she was enjoying an idyllic existence, since leaving Great Britain behind her.

This woman has never once admitted to being homesick, missing friends and relations, or to missing anything about Great Britain, since she left this country. I suspect that she considers modesty to be the eighth deadly sin, as her bragging has often taken my breath away. Apparently, her husband is a high earner, who seems to be promoted every year and she has a 'model' daughter. They are a family of high achievers. She achieves, where others fail. She never fails. They have lots of money and lots of holidays. They have lots of friends and only good things happen to her. She must be the mother of all positive spin.

Normally, my husband and I glance through her round robins, have a bit of a joke about them and toss them to one side, but, this time, I had a rather wicked thought. I was feeling a bit short of ideas for my blog and I realised that the round robin might provide some good material for a post. I have amused myself greatly by speculating about the true meaning, which could lie behind some of the boastful content and positive spin, contained in the round robin I received a few days ago. The boasting is rather low key, this year, compared to others, but I have listed some excerpts from it, in bold, below. Possible interpretations are in italics.

Hi - it's that time of year again, time for our annual missive - I can no longer be bothered to insert your names in my round robin, because, ultimately, it's all about me. I so look forward to this time of year, because it's very important to me to convince you, in my round robin, that my husband and I have far more money than you and I need you to know how much we enjoy finding different ways of spending it.

2008 has been a fairly quiet year for us - I'm fairly sure that we've spent more money on holidays this year, than you've earned.

My husband, Walter, has been promoted and is now Head of Internal Communication for ****** (all 66,000 + people) so he is spending time settling into his new role - My husband now has a different job, within his company and is earning more money, because he is in possession of some compromising photos of the CEO. Walter has upset so many clients that he is no longer allowed to communicate with anyone outside the company. He hasn't yet worked out what his new role entails.

We enjoyed having our daughter, Winifred, back with us, from university, last Christmas - After starting university in October 2007, our daughter had no desire to see us until Christmas and she only came then, because she didn't receive a better invitation.

In the week before Christmas, we travelled to **** with a group of friends (25 of us) - Winifred and I to ski, and Walter to walk. We enjoyed blue skies and sunshine the whole time. Winifred and I remained unscathed, but Walter hurt his knee whilst walking and it took him several weeks to recover - We can afford an expensive winter holiday, as well as paying for Christmas presents etc. I've counted my friends and I'm hoping that I have more than you. Walter didn't want to go skiing, but gave in to my demands, so that I could keep up with my friends and boast about it in my round robin. It never rains in my world. Nothing dreadful ever happens to me, or my daughter. We are lucky. My husband is unlucky, so he hurt his knee. It serves him right because he didn't want to go skiing and he didn't join in.

Winifred has been studying hard, but enjoying her time at university, whilst achieving good academic results. - Winifred is taking a degree in Snakes and Ladders and only has one lecture a fortnight.

The first year has seen a lot partying. She had a good time during her first year's stay in halls, as there was always something going on -Winifred drank a lot and slept around during her first year in halls.

This academic year, she has moved into a house with 7 other girls - I was impressed when I found out that my daughter had 7 friends. When she told me that they were girls, I believed her.

Once again, Winifred took advantage of her sailing skills, and got a summer job teaching sailing, spending the summer vacation in *****. This time she worked for a smaller company. She seemed to have a thoroughly enjoyable time - particularly when there weren't many guests and she could make use of the hotel facilities - My daughter can sail. I think that this will impress you, because I'm fairly certain that you don't even know anyone who can sail. She's not very good, so the company she worked for last year would not employ her again. The company she worked for this year didn't have many bookings and it was going under.

Unfortunately, this meant that we only saw her for a few days at the beginning of the summer, as we didn't manage to get out to ***** to see her, because it was the high season and all of the flights were full - Winifred was determined not to spend much time with us, during the summer. She got the sack from her summer job, but didn't tell us. She knew that we wouldn't be able to get a flight to ***** to visit her, during the high season and by the time we were trying to book, she was already partying in Majorca, with one of the Greek waiters.

In April, Walter and I had a late celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary, (the actual date was October 07) when we jetted off to ******. We had a wonderful relaxing time in the hotel, where nothing was too much trouble for the lovely staff, who all lived locally - My husband was trying to avoid spending too much money on our anniversary celebrations, but I refused to let the subject drop, until he took me somewhere exotic, so that I could boast about it in my next round robin. We took advantage of the local peasants, working in the hotel, who waited on us hand and foot, with gritted teeth and a forced smile, in the hope of receiving a big tip.

Given the heat, we spent much of the day lazing in the pool - It was too hot. There wasn't much to see or do.

The most memorable experience for me was being in the water with a pink dolphin - I was so bored that I got pissed and began to see pink dolphins.

I had to visit a shopping mall and, of course, chose the largest in ****** - Fortunately, I couldn't find much else to do, but shop. I had so much money to spend, that it would have been a waste of time going to a small shopping mall.

The standard of living was quite low. We visited a typical house, in the area and it was like stepping back in time about 50 years. I must say that I was glad to get back to our luxury hotel - I don't like to mix with poor people and I certainly don't like to visit their houses. In fact, I don't know why I did visit a poor person's house and neither does anyone else. It was such a relief to return to the real world and remember that I have lots of money.

Winifred will be heading our way in the middle of December, with a friend. She is then hoping that we will be going to ****, skiing again, before Christmas - Winifred can't bear the thought of being alone with us for Christmas.

In the 10 years we have been here, we have seen many changes. When we arrived, there were no such things as 'ready meals'. Now there is a fair selection of convenience foods - nothing like the UK, but certainly enough to make life easier! Many of the supermarkets are now open until 8pm, instead of closing at 5pm. I wonder what the next few years will bring and whether we will be here to see it - I found it impossible to manage without convenience food, when we first moved here. The opening times for the shops were totally inconvenient, for the first few years, but I never mentioned, previously, that I found some aspects of life difficult here, because it was essential to convince you poor people living in GB, that my life was perfect in every way. My husband may lose his job, in the next round of redundancies and we may have to return to the country of our birth, which we have mercilessly poured scorn upon, for the last few years.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Happy 2009 - Try to have a good Christmas, and New Year, in spite of the fact that you have hardly any money and live in a country, which is on the verge of bankcruptcy.

I do hope that this woman doesn't blog! I'm not sure that she would appreciate my sense of humour! If you are the author of this round robin, however, please don't take it personally. It's just a joke - really, it is and don't be put off sending me your usual round robin next year, will you? I so look forward to it and, anyway, what will I blog about at this time of year, if you don't?


auntiegwen said...


my name is auntiegwen, I have 3 selfish children, a classroom of horrible teenagers, a filthy house and a man who is neither use nor ornament

Happy Christmas !

Thats what mine should say, how funny, my blog later today is on this very theme, ! great minds think alike XXX

Mean Mom said...

auntiegwen - I can see that you haven't quite got the hang of this round robin writing. I shall look forward to your thoughts, later on! It's good to have something that's great.

Working mum said...

Ha Ha! Great fun! What do these people think we need to know this stuff for? I get two sides of A4 from a couple we met on holiday once detailing the blokes operations and also the dogs! Why?! I prefer Auntie Gwen's!

I send a sheet of pictures of our year to my mum and dad's friends (no-one can be bothered reading an A4 missive, can they?) and they tell them it's great. I send good and bad pictures depicting our year. This year it was the transformation of the lounge and two wet and windy holidays. Oh, and daughter in her new school uniform, of course!

Mean Mom said...

working mum - Pictures are a good idea and yours would have caused some amusement, I'm sure. It's all about the feelings you want to invoke, isn't it? People appreciate honesty. If some don't present a balanced picture, in their annual missives, then their motives become suspicious. It's not about sharing with a friend, is it? It's about impressing etc.

MarmiteToasty said...

It took me a while to suss out what the hell a round robin was lol I take it that its a yearly crimbo letter letting everyone know how they are getting on over the past year....

Your post is just to funny....... what a stuck up her own arse nasty piece of poo LOL there, Ive said it :)

She is probably the most miserablest person and has no friends and no real life.... and so she lives in a make believe world based around money....


Grumpy Old Ken said...

Being a mere man I'm not sure exactly what a round robin is or how it works. I have a posh relation who sends the same printed messages to all of the family. is that a round robin?

Excellent post.

Mean Mom said...

Marmite Toasty - Yes, you've got it. That's what a round robin is. Glad I made you laugh!

This woman is the complete opposite of you. I know who I would rather spend time with.

There is no doubt that she has money and, I suspect, shallow friends but she doesn't understand what life is all about.

Now, a round robin from you (or even from me, I hope) would be worth reading, wouldn't it? Tell it like it is, but try not to depress anybody! Balance is what is needed.

Mean Mom said...

Grumpy Old Ken - Hmmm... possibly. It depends on the content. Generally, it's a letter people tend to create on their computer, at Christmas, running off several copies for their friends and relations, to let everyone know what they've been doing over the past year.

Unfortunately, mine have tended to be sent by people I didn't know very well and seemed to be just an excuse for a bit of boasting.

Mom of Three said...

I'm always worried my MIL will find my "real" blog, as opposed to the sweetie-pie one I direct her to! Honest holiday form letters--I think it could take off! Here's mine.

Dear All:

This year we're not any better off than last year. The spike in gas prices led to the spike in food prices and, as such, we're 30 days behind on more than one bill. It's so charming how the children have learned not to answer calls where the caller ID shows certain area codes!

Eldest continues to take ballet, but does no better, and now has added sucking in her cheeks while onstage to her moves. Princess, not content to be homeschooled, now must attend a private school that drains us of $330 a month. Little Man refuses to potty train at 3 1/2. I've gained 8 pounds, in spite of going to the gym three days a week. SH has lost more hair.

Hope you all are doing better and happy holidays!

Mean Mom said...

Mom of Three - Welcome! You are obviously living in the real world. Now, that's what I call sharing!;0)

The round robins I receive from my acquaintance, have nothing to do with friendship. I don't know which planet she is on, but wherever it is, she loves 'looking down' on the rest of us.

Thanks for calling in!

Ladybird World Mother said...

I love this post! Have had to dash through it so will be back as have to feed children and drive 100 miles by 8.30. Crikey.
Looking forward to reading this with nice cup of tea on monday.
have lovely weekend!

Mean Mom said...

Ladybird World Mother - Oooh, thanks! Hope your drive goes OK. Look forward to seeing you on Monday, then..... Oh, she's gone.

Suburbia said...

I love all your interpretations, but it was the original lines in bold which were so unbelievalbe!!
I wouldn't want her life. .....No seriously!

Rose said...

LOL, Mean Mom! I often send out Christmas newsletters, as we call them, but mine can't compare to your friend's:) I've often thought about sending one with just the bad parts of our lives--wonder how people might react to that.

Your "friend's", though, has to take the cake. Thank goodness I don't get any like that. The worst I got was one that went into great detail about the husband's colon operation--too much information:)

Mean Mom said...

Suburbia - I'm glad that it's not just me, then. My mouth has sometimes dropped open, on reading some of her remarks. I've got about 5 or 6 of these things. I just had to keep them, because they are unbelievable.

I would have been devastated if I'd had to leave this country. Her father was 80 odd, when they moved out there, but she's only mentioned him once and that was a few years ago. I wouldn't want her life either. It appears to be a shallow and selfish existence.

Mean Mom said...

Rose - There's nothing wrong with sending a newsy letter to a friend, but my acquaintance's round robins are nothing like that, are they? They make me cringe! It's all to do with 'showing off' and she thinks that I should envy her. I am very British and I like living here! I'm not even that keen on holidaying abroad!

Grit said...

and what can possibly be wrong with england? here there is a holiday in great yarmouth pontins stalag 13, a day down the sewage farm, morris dancers in luton, and a boggy field in milton keynes. honestly. some people don't know the glories they're missing.

Mean Mom said...

Grit - It's true that some of us have some strange ideas of what constitutes a holiday, or a day out, mentioning no names, of course! ;0) Whilst glossing over Pontins and the sewage farm, I'll just say that, if ever I went to live abroad, I would really miss Morris dancers and tramping over muddy fields!

Granny on the Web said...

Happened upon this accidently... don't ask how I am a dud at this blogging lark. But I so enjoyed the fun of this I had to comment and thank you for sharing this.
I knew someone years ago who used to brag pointlessly and she had 5 sons and always bragged about them. When my first child was a girl she never spoke to me again, and so I found out she was desperate for a girl.

Mean Mom said...

Granny on the Web - Welcome! LOL! What a shallow and pathetic person she was, then. I shouldn't think that you missed her at all!

What is wrong with these people? Do they think that if they can convince everyone else they are happy, that they will become so?

Glad you found me!

Suburbia said...

Really sorry you have the flu :(
I was going to wish you Merry Christmas so I hope you have a reasonable time despite illness.

'See' you in the new year :)

merry weather said...

Round Robins are written by Colossal Bores who live their lives through their families. Oh dear! They might also be called Ego Trips by Mail.

Those of us with a sense of humour, who are in touch with reality can be staggered at their daring to impress.

Dear oh dear, at least we can chuckle. Faintly!

Merry Christmas Mean Mom!

Liz said...

Wonderful! She sounds atrocious!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and a healthy New Year! xx Hope you get to your parents in good time.

Working mum said...

Hope you've had a good Christmas. Award for you over at my place. WM x

Deb said...

Happy Holidays! You should have a warning at the top of this post about not having a mouthful of coffee when reading this since there is a chance the reader might LOL and spray coffee all over her computer screen ;)

I have been MIA for a bit and I am back. I truly enjoyed my visit here and look forward to many visits in the upcoming New Year. Celebrate.

blogthatmama said...

I can't help it, I love those round robins, endless pleasure reading between the lines and visualising the faux modesty and pomposity tapping away at the computer. One year I'm going to do an auntiegwen and send a truly horrific round up of all of our 'news' if I ever have the guts to do it. Happy Christmas and New Year, Mean Mom! Blogthatmamax

Anonymous said...

Award for you at mine! Come over and pick it up!

Sally's Chateau said...

Spot on with your interpretation.

Maggie May said...

These Round Robins go on for pages and pages sometimes. (Just a moment while I go to be sick!) That is better!
Need I say more about them?
I had a good laugh at Winifred's expense and I hope she never gets to read it because her whole world will be pointless if she can't impress the poor of the world with her yearly circular.
Thanks for giving me a bit of a laugh!
Happy New Year......... at least 300 days before the next round robin! Bet you have started ticking them off on the new calendar!

Mean Mom said...

Suburbia - I've been dragging myself around for the past couple of weeks. We always have visitors staying over New Year and whilst I enjoy seeing them, it is very hard work, even when I am well. This year was much harder, because I still felt fairly awful. Anyway they've all gone now and I'm just exhausted. I would like to sleep for a week! I will write a post when I have the energy. Happy New Year etc!

merry weather - 'Ego Trips By Mail' is a very good description of the missives I receive. I didn't know this woman very well, but she seemed to be an OK sort of person, I thought. I don't know what happened to her when she moved abroad, but she quickly became a bit of a pain in the bottom!

Liz - Happy New Year to you too! We were a little late picking up my aunt, but not too bad, in the end. It all worked out OK, but it was pretty exhausting, as I coughed my way through the day. I think that quite a few people were ill over Christmas from the sound of it.

Working mum - Happy New Year to you too! An award! It's so flattering to be awarded something! That's cheered me up a bit!

Deb - Happy Holidays to you too! It's good that you are back. I will be over as soon as I've recovered a bit more! I've been so exhausted with preparing for visitors and then looking after them, that I've not been getting about much. Glad you enjoyed the post, anyway!

Blogthatmama - Strangely enough, I think I would miss her round robin, if she stopped sending it! I sort of look forward to it in a very perverse way! I could stop sending her a Christmas card, of course and I have considered it, but then I would feel mean and I doubt that she would notice, anyway! She's so wrapped up in herself! Yes, I could send her a round robin that she would never forget!!

Happy New Year to you too!

Mud in the City - I'm so flattered! Another award! It's so good that someone thinks of me, when giving out these things!

Sally's Chateau - Thanks, Sally! I've never really bothered trying to properly interpret her round robins, before, but when I sat down and had a good think - I got the idea, behind most of it! It's actually quite unpleasant!

Maggie May - Just for a moment, there, I thought you'd caught the winter vomiting bug, but, yes, I know what you mean! Pass me the bucket, when you've rinsed it out!

I wonder how she imagines her round robins are received in our house? I was slightly concerned about sending her up, on my blog, because I don't know any of the other people she is in contact with. For all I know, she sends hundreds of copies and some blogger might recognise some of the extracts! Whoops! I have changed names, of course, but if my blog suddenly disappears .....