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Author's Chapter Notes:
These were written by JS1

Public Christmas Letter

Freudesheim
Gornetz Platz
Switzerland
18 December 19XX

To my excessively wide acquaintance

Greetings from gloriously snowy Switzerland, or Christmas Card Land as I used to say back in the early days. That, of course, was before I was the Best Head Girl The School Ever Had and when I was in, shall we say, the larval stages of becoming the Spirit of the School.

I thought I’d jot down a few lines to bring you all up to date with my marvellous life. If in doing so, I can bring some joy into your humdrum existence, then the time I spend writing this letter will be worthwhile. No, don’t thank me – the knowledge that I’m doing a little something for those less fortunate than me is enough.

Now, where was I? Yes, lovely snow in Switzerland. Fortunately I’ve kept my old nailed boots in good trim over all these years (I knew I was right to make them a priority among my luggage when fleeing Austria). That means I can stay on my feet while those around me are flailing about – a metaphor for life, I feel.

The brats are all growing well and are a credit to my training, especially Len, who, as the eldest, has a tremendous sense of responsibility, and Margot, who has inherited my lively, rebellious nature. Dreamy Con is shaping up to be a good writer, so I think you could say they are all chips off the old block. Oh yes, and I have some sons too, and a set of twins. That’s what I call a Real Family, and it delights me to have beaten everyone else on that score at least.

Our new house is wonderful, especially now we’ve started replacing the cabbage patch with a rose garden (well, I say ‘we’ but I really mean that the school gardener has been doing the work under my supervision). We chose the name because we want it to be a real Happy Home, which of course it is. I wouldn’t change it for anything, not even to swap with Simone’s grand chateau (had you heard she and Andre had cleverly managed to inherit the place after cunningly naming their (one, sole, ONLY) son after a rich relative – jammy, if you ask me). Actually, I think the place is a bit gloomy, but I’ve advised on bringing it up-to-date with some fresh cretonnes and wicker. You know I’ve always had an eye for making a charming home. Simone was so full of what I assume was gratitude that she almost choked.

My work is still going well and my publishers are clamouring for more. Their response to my last was that it left them speechless! Isn’t that wonderful? I really do feel that with my doctor husband, many children and successful career that I do ‘have it all’ (even if I don’t have a chateau, or quads, or a baronet for a husband – yet). People keep telling me they don’t know how I do it, especially Anna, who says it rather a lot, actually. Or something similar anyway, but sometimes her English isn’t as good as it could be.

Anyhow, enough about me (as if there ever could be!). I hope you all have a marvellous Christmas, or as marvellous as it can be considering that, well, let’s be honest, you’re not as happy, adored and successful as I am. Better luck next year!

Joey


Private Christmas Letter

Freudesheim
Gornetz Platz
Switzerland
18 December 19XX


Hello my dearest friends

Just a short note to let you have our new address, just in case you don’t know it yet. Also, I suppose I should bring you up to date with the move. Things have been so busy (no, not like that!) that I’ve scarcely had time to think, let alone put pen to paper.

We’re settling in, slowly but surely. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that our new home was so close to the school (will I ever get away from it??) but Jack did his best, and property is hard to come by on the Gornetz Platz. I hope I managed to hide my consternation.

It was bad enough having to make this move in the first place – I do wish that Jem had decided to come and run the Swiss branch of the San himself, then we wouldn’t have been uprooted from our beloved Plas Gwyn. The real heartache, of course, is that the boys will be so many miles away back in England. Had we stayed in the UK we would have been able to see them for all the holidays and, of course, the girls would have stayed at the English branch of the Chalet School with friends of their own age.

Still, I’m trying to make the best of things and really hope that nobody would be able to guess that I’m not ecstatic about it all – you know me, always a happy face. Jack calls it my being ‘breezy’; if only the poor man knew.

Of course being so close to the school – and as Madge is so far away – I find myself being called on to play the family/owner role rather too much for my liking. I don’t really object to hosting the new girls for tea parties (and the new mistresses as well now, where will it stop?) but it does eat rather into my writing time. And let’s face it, I’m getting a bit old and stiff for slidey mats. Thank heavens for Anna – I really don’t know how we’d all manage without her; I know I certainly couldn’t.

The one good thing about being in Switzerland is that we’re so much closer to some of my oldest and dearest friends: Simone has moved to a gorgeous chateau near Paris (but she’ll tell you about that herself; I mustn’t steal her thunder) and, of course, has her lovely son Pierre. I love all my own children of course, but he really is something special. I hope to see lots of her, and of Frieda and Marie, now we’re on the Continent.

Apologies if this does sound a little gloomy rather than festive. I know I’m tremendously lucky really, but sometimes I do hark back to the dreams I once had of a life where I was everyone’s favourite maiden aunt and able to spend more time writing. Still, must keep soldiering on.

Please do have a lovely Christmas and a marvellous New Year and think of me trying to make the best of things in ‘Freudesheim’.

With all love, Joey



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