2015 will be remembered globally for the horrors of terrorism in
Paris and elsewhere, while in the UK we unexpectedly elected a new
majority government. Meanwhile, in the Ling household, 2015
was generally equitable and peaceful with only minor changes.
For John, magistrates’ business ticked over gently, but
the bioethical talks have strangely almost dried up and there are
no more major writing projects on the horizon – the let-up has
been most welcome. Wendy has found a new intensity
in sewing and knitting, mainly for the grandchildren. A
garment for one sparks a call from the other seven, so it has been
a year of pullovers, bags, dresses and quilts.
We have long been advocates of palliative care, but it was high
time we became more practically involved, so we have joined a
newly-formed ‘sitting’ group in Aberystwyth. John gave some
lectures during the initial training sessions and now helps with
website updates. Wendy has signed up as a volunteer respite
sitter. By the way, the overwhelming defeat of the UK
Parliamentary bill to legalise assisted suicide was, for us, one
of the surprising, but most gratifying, events of 2015.
We have a new bedroom. When John redecorates he is nothing
but thorough. Everything – carpets, cupboards, wardrobes,
the lot – is removed before the modernisation begins. And we
have a new bed – our first for 43 years. It is so
comfortable we feel tired just looking at it.
A routine visit to the garden shed during the summer revealed an
unforeseen leaky roof. Out came all the contents and another
major renovation was launched. The roof now consists of new
rafters, purlins and noggins, 11 mm marine ply, heavy-duty felt,
thick black adhesive, a bucketful of galvanised clouts and fresh
guttering. Several coats of wood preservative have made it
look almost new.
We have had our three regular visits to London. Meetings in
the mornings for John and joint playtimes in the afternoons.
We took in three art exhibitions, Rubens and His Legacy, Inventing
Impressionism and Goya: The Portraits, plus a trip
to the Wallace Collection and a lunchtime music recital at the
Wigmore Hall and then dinners at L’Autre Pied, Wilton’s and Theo
Randall’s. All first-rate. And we saw The Merchant of
Venice – disappointingly in modern dress – at the RSC theatre,
We have not ventured abroad this year. No-one has invited us
anywhere, but more to the point, we are not sure we want to travel
in our newly-precarious world. All those fascinating and
unseen cities like Damascus and Palmyra, or even Istanbul and St
Petersburg, have suddenly lost their attraction.
Have you ever had computer calamities? We have. In
March, we went for the mega upgrade – our beloved XP was ditched
for Windows 8.1, IE7 was exchanged for Chrome and Office 2003 for
Office 2013, our faithful old PC and netbooks were replaced, a new
modem was installed, John’s website was moved to a different
server with a new-fangled HTML editor and then two months of chaos
and frustration followed. The pandemonium has subsided –
kudos to our techie friends. Windows 10 now beckons – oh no!
What a good fishing season we had. Though the summer weather
was dreadful, the fish were plentiful. In one two-hour trip
in Lazy Lady we caught a record 84 fish and a grand total
of 168 from just 7 outings. We are piscatorial to the
core. And we are also dedicated fruit eaters. This
year the crops of red, white and blackcurrants from the garden,
plus wild blackberries were bumper, but the Victoria plums were
sparse compared with last year.
We both remain largely healthy, despite a few old-age
hiccups. As recommended by Wendy for years, John now wears
varifocal glasses, so he can read his notes and see the audience
simultaneously – what a boon. Wendy swims regularly while
John has recently taken up running again – as a trustee of the
LIFE charity, he has been gently pressed to compete in the
infamous Wolf Run [www.thewolfrun.com]
next June, that is, if his dodgy left knee holds up.
Simeon celebrated his 40th birthday with a family and
friends' get-together in May. We still occasionally find
photographs of him in a pram or learning to walk – where have the
years gone? He has satisfactorily completed his first year
at Rider, Levett Bucknall as their business development manager
with regular meetings throughout the UK. He still enjoys
cycling and buying bike accessories.
Anne also turned 40 in October – she had a girlie 70s
pyjama party to celebrate. Her part-time work is with a
church in downtown Birmingham. She is still learning new
musical skills with her violin teacher. After she completed
several cycling courses, she won a new hybrid bike. This
year, the family spent 10 days in Carcassonne for their summer
holiday and opportunity to enjoy all things French.
Esther (12) is now in her second year at Lordswood Girls’
School – she has settled in well and receives good reports of hard
work, with art her favourite subject. French is now one of
her subjects, much to her mother’s delight. She had a sewing
machine for her birthday, but has yet to produce that sparkling
evening gown. The violin is still going strong and she is
working towards her grade 4.
Rachel (10) will probably join Esther at the same secondary
school next September. She is a social hub at her primary
school – that is nice for her, but she is (very) easily distracted
in lessons. The guitar is still going despite the erratic
Naomi (8) is the sweetly bonkers granddaughter, who is also
readily side-tracked at school. She won a medal for
completing the national summer reading challenge – six books in
six weeks. She can now swim in the deep end of the pool as
well as dance like any crazy pop star.
Ben never has enough hours in the day. He is
frequently frustrated by the adverse weather which delays or
scuppers his field trails for the development of new forage
grasses, legumes and grain legumes. His hobbies include
chopping wood for the fire and watching football. The family
happily recall their last Christmas in warm, alfresco Australia.
Glenda continues to work part-time at Cysgod y Coed, a
nearby old people’s home. Now the girls are soon to be both
at school, she is looking out for new employment
possibilities. Baking, shopping, taxiing and so on, fill the
rest of her days.
Tiana (6) is the conscientious student at school and she
enjoys books, reading, bird-watching, sewing with Grandma, dancing
and playing in general. She was a singing camel in her
recent school concert.
Gwen (4) now wears the cutest glasses. She still
attends a nursery class, Ysgol Feithryn, but from January she will
join Tiana at the infants’ school full-time. She enjoys
colouring, baking, dollies and singing, and she is the family
Christopher is making good progress with his futsal
– he is getting more bookings from schools and football clubs and
has recently taken on two assistants.
Anna continues to manage the Ryman household and is
constantly tired with (not ‘of’) the educational demands of their
three home-schooled children, plus visits to various children’s
groups, swimming lessons, and so on – a recent and persistent
frozen shoulder has not helped. And she must be feeding her
children well because they have all grown between 5 and 7 cm
during the last six months.
Mia (6) is now temporarily Miss Gappy having lost at least
two front teeth. She is mastering swimming, money, ballet
and tap. Her maths is good, though her reading is somewhat
Joshua (4) attends the Woodley Baptist Church preschool –
he is the oldest in the class and really enjoying it. His
other pleasures are colouring – he won a competition prize a
couple of months ago – football and play-fighting. He
remains serious and intense, but his vocabulary has improved
vastly and he is always keen to look at books with adults and to
keep the conversation going.
Caleb (3) still has the most wonderfully woolly,
Einstein-like hair, a chipped tooth and the warmest of
smiles. He likes apples (up to three a day) and
play-fighting (with his siblings) and he regularly attends a
wiggle-waggle dance and music group. In contrast to Joshua,
he is innately light-hearted.
Mum (94) was doing well until she toppled over in June and
broke her ankle. She has recovered well but her mobility has
declined, though she is determined to improve it. She now
has a home help three times a week. We are spending time
with her this Christmas in Reading.
You can see the 2015 pictures of ‘The Lings at Christmas’ on
John’s website [www.johnling.co.uk].
Click on the yellow, moving marquee in the top left-hand corner of
the front page. There you will also find a rare picture of
all seventeen of us together.
Every year in the UK, the Christmas season is unofficially started
by the release of the TV advert from the shopping giant, John
Lewis. This year’s commercial was about a little girl sending a
gift to the lonely ‘man in the moon’. It was clever
marketing – witty and sentimental. But it was theologically
way off beam. The truth is this: the Christmas gift does not
go FROM this world, but comes TO this world. ‘For I have
come down from heaven’, ‘For the Son of Man has come to seek and
to save that which was lost’ and ‘I have come that they may have
life’ (John 6:38, Luke 19:10 and John 10:10). Yes, indeed,
He has come to us. He is Emmanuel – God with us.
And we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!