We haven’t heard much of the Wrights lately, have we?
Well, the family are continuing meet, phone, write letters and emails to each other about what is going on in their respective lives. They also send greeting cards on special seasons like Christmas, birthdays, mothers’ and fathers’ days, holidays, etc.
As school children often pick up minor illnesses, they sometimes have to send ‘get well soon’ wishes, but hopefully that doesn’t happen very often. For instance, one of the grandchildren, Max was quite ill over the Christmas holiday. It was just a cold but it knocked him for six. He was running a high temperature and shivering almost all day and night. He was still pale and sleeping more than usual the next day but he was been up and about again the day after.
With his permission, I’d like to share with you some of the other things mentioned in emails which Mr Wright’s son, David, sent to his Dad, telling him about their goings on. David and his family live in Abergavenny, South Wales, about 150 miles away from Runcorn, where Mr Wright lives, so they do not all meet up very often.
First of all, there were the presents David’s children received from their Granddad. On Christmas day, Max (and his Dad) had a go with his fantastic remote control truck, running it around on the newly laid floors1 in the hall, dinning room and kitchen which made an ideal race track! Max also had an alarm kit, which he had to build himself, and really enjoyed playing with it and setting it up all over the house to catch the others as they moved from room to room!
The two older girls, Emily and Eleanor were impressed with their presents: Emmy, had a chemistry set and especially liked all the containers labelled as ‘harmful’ and ‘toxic’ – not that they were really as dangerous as that sounds. Ellie had a similar set of chemicals (different coloured salts) for growing crystals, but we have had no report about that so far! Milly (Milena – the youngest girl) was kept busy with some books – she particularly liked one about princesses, as I think she fancies herself to be a princess sometimes. The weather was not good, so they all spent a quiet day at home playing with their presents. David’s wife, Rachael, was working from home so she had to hide in her room for most of the day.
As well as these presents, the children also received gifts of money and were very excited as they thought up different plans to spend it. As Emmy is hoping to go on a school trip to New York during January, she is saving her money for that trip. Perhaps she will tell us about it when she gets back and we can see how her impressions compare with those of Ms Pauline Suder who also went there recently – see School English #1, 2007, pages 8-9.
David (Jr) himself is now working as a teacher at a school about an hour’s drive away. Although it was a holiday, he had to write a 3,000 word essay before he went back to school on the 4th of January and the whole family was all going off to stay with friends in Canterbury2 for New Year. The school was due to be visited by an inspector (from official regulatory body known as Ofsted3) in the first week of term. Strictly speaking, it was the school that was being inspected rather than the teachers, but it was still slightly daunting for David as he is new to the job and he had to make sure all his files were up to date.
The exhaust fell off their old van (making even worse than usual sparks and a grating noise) on David’s way home from his last day at school before Christmas. That sort of thing more often happens when they are hundreds of miles from home, so it made a nice change for them to be able to get it fixed before they went away to spend the New Year with friends in Canterbury.
New Year’s day started off quiet. Later on, Max (him again!) slipped over, just as they were going for a bracing walk. His parents thought little of it and thought that a good walk would do him good. When his vision became blurred, his hand numb and he felt sick, they became more worried, but had to complete the walk to get home. David ended up carrying the poor boy home and Max spent much of the rest of day in bed. Max always seems to suffer worse than the rest of the children. However, he was right as rain by tea time and ate a hearty meal to make up for it!
Anne Pitt (third from the left) with Frodsham’s Mayor
That takes care of one branch of the family. As well as his son, David, Mr Wright also has a married daughter called Anne4 Pitt. Her husband, Simon, is self-employed and works with computers. Her two sons are Nicolas, 20 years old and about to join the army; and Alexander, 14 years old and studying for his GCSE’s5. She also has a daughter, Rebecca (known as Becky) who is 10 years old and is still at primary school. They live in a small town called Helsby not far from Runcorn.
Anne is the Office Manager at Frodsham Town Council. Frodsham is another town, slightly larger than Helsby a bit nearer to Runcorn. Both Helsby and Frodsham are in the same district6, called Vale Royal, which is in the northern part of Cheshire. As part of her duties for the Council, Anne recently featured in a photograph published in a local newspaper recording the election of a new Deputy Mayor.
Each Christmas time, Frodsham, like most other towns and cities in England, is illuminated with lights and other decorations. The lights are usually switched on at a ceremony by some well-known person – this year, it was Councillor Dennis Taylor. Amongst the events, there is usually an opportunity for children to meet Santa Claus, in his ‘Christmas Grotto7’. At about the same time, Vale Royal Borough Council normally organises the ‘Frodsham Christmas Festival’. This year, however, Frodsham Town Council decided to combine their annual ‘Switch On’ of the Frodsham Christmas lights with the Vale Royal Borough Council’s Festival.
Anne Pitt as a Fairy at Frodsham, Christmas 2006
As the Town Council had decided not to hold their usual Christmas Grotto, Anne volunteered to assist a local charity (voluntary organisation), Frodsham Community Association, in another grotto which they were sponsoring, on the condition that she could dress up as a fairy. She didn’t want the children to be disappointed that they would not be able to meet Santa. In the event, it was a lovely couple of days which raised approximately Ј600 for the Community Association.
A local magazine reported that Frodsham’s annual Christmas festival was a magical event with thousands of visitors arrived over the two days in which it took place. There was a parade led by Santa and his reindeer pulling a sleigh which went right through the town. For the first time, there was also ‘continental market’ where visitors could buy delicacies brought to Frodsham from around Europe by local traders. Frodsham main street is a wide thoroughfare and market stalls are usually set up either side of the road, but owing to the large numbers of customers expected (and who did in fact turn up) many of the stalls were located in a nearby public park. It is now considered that the festivities are established as an annual event.
1 The floors were previously very uneven and had been dug up, re-laid so that they were all at the same level and paved with new tiles. The house is very old with different parts having been added and altered over the years resulting in uneven floors, doorways and windows in strange places. You can read more about the house in the website at: http://schoolenglish.ru/anglosphere/118/our-house 2 A famous city in Kent, in the south East of England, mentioned by Geoffrey Chaucer in his ‘Canterbury Tales’. 3 The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) 4 She was christened ‘Barbara Anne’ but as that was too difficult for the local people to say in Thailand where they were living at the time, she is always known simply as ‘Anne’. 5 ‘General Certificate of Secondary Education’, an examination taken by school children when they are about 15 years old. They may then leave school or go on to further education. 6 Called a ‘Borough’. 7 A grotto is a kind of cave where Santa is supposed to live, or at least, where he meets children to listen to their requests for presents and to decide whether they have been good or bad that year. Many organisations, large stores, etc, display such Christmas-themed tableaux, either to raise money for charities or as advertisements for their businesses.