S T   C U T H B E R T ’ S  H O U S E Hermitage of the Diocese of Nottingham               

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January 2012

Dear Family & Friends,

I was roundly scolded last year for sending off my annual newsletter too far ahead of the Santa-Special.  That, at least, is my excuse for this one arriving so late: around the feast of Epiphany I expect,.  Probably as close to orthodoxy as I am likely to achieve in any sphere this year.  For non-Orthodox brethren & schwestern, post seasonal festivities, I hope you are all well on the road to recovery.

My own non-recovering neuropathy continues to fascinate.  After an alarming murmur of newly-serious-sounding hmm’s & tst’s from my consultant, I was bundled off to Sheffield to undergo yet another programme of tests & retests which had me wired up and jumping around on a laboratory couch like Frankenstein’s monster.  The results were tediously inconclusive, though their very lack of clarity did lead one practitioner to mutter on my way out, “I don’t imagine it will kill you.”  Handy information.  I have also usefully been informed by the medical profession, in writing, that my nerve responses are “very abnormal”, my brain is “unremarkable”, and that my buttocks are “fine to look at”.  Self-knowledge is an excellent thing.  After 30 months of waiting-room emotional gymnastics, precociously preparing my own eulogy, I have finally tired of that game and decided to bin the epic (not without regret: they said such nice things), and to face up to the next 30 plus years of life with a reluctantly emerging optimism.  No guarantees of course, but with a complete dearth through the village, and maxing out at just four per day through the local town, timing will have to be particular, and very precise, for the apocryphal rogue double-decker to exact its ironic revenge.  

After 6 years of outrageously high prices on my website (the price of originality ...  and Canon inks), I have been threatening for the last several months to hike them even higher from their 2005 level to something a bit more second-decade.  I was halfway through this process, when I heard mention recently, on the news I believe, of something called a “recession”.  They have kept that very quiet.  Ergo, in solidarity with the ingenious generosity and compassion of the supermarket moguls, I have postponed the moment, and by dint of a little manoeuvring & manipulation (& by slashing Jack & Harry’s squeaky-toy-mouse budget for the forseeable) I have managed to freeze most of the prices for yet another year.  AND I have introduced new extra-value postcard options on most designs.  Though I cannot begin to match Tesco’s two-for-the-price-of-a-crumpet deal, I am doing my best.  Thank you for all the support you have given over the last year. And if you have liked my work enough to have paid for cards during that brief period of super-inflation actual profitability, thank you.  THANK YOU!

Lincs CC is very good at supporting its SMEs, and one of the various invitations I received during the year was to a workshop on the use of “Social Media for Small Businesses”.  I retired from Facebook several years ago as I found it too noisy (though not before proving my worth at the online Scrabble table) so I was a little cautious about returning to the melee.  As is customary at the outset on these occasions, the course delegates went around the table, each outlining what they hoped to get out of the day.  I explained that as a hermit I was looking for help in using social media to promote my business without compromising the solitude & silence of the hermitage; the guy next to me then explained that he was a blacksmith with an unexpectedly developing and lucrative trade in niche “adult” toys and dungeon installations  ...  it was a memorable day for our instructor!  In the event, it was all very useful and I came away with some handy tips for the New Year.  You can follow my early toddlings on Twitter @hermitrachel ... Oh, and don’t be put off by a follower called Desades.  He is just some guy I met on a course once.

Now it is the end of December.  There are geraniums blooming in the planters on the terrace, the hens are laying 3 eggs a day (3 hens), and there is fruit still hanging on the mislabelled-Bramley apple tree.  My car has been restored to good health (dodgy door problem – google Peugeot 1007 if you really want to know) and there are inklings from the insurance company that they may get around to filling in the chasm (summer 2010) in the New Year.  All is calm and manageable in my little world and I am grateful.  But I am terribly aware that for many people, some of them very close to me, the national & global events of recent years have shaken their “little worlds” to the core, and the outlook is not so bright.  One of the challenges of hermitage is not to shut the door on vagaries and distress, but to be open to the hurt and the difficulties and to bring them to God in prayer.  Please be assured of my prayers for you all during these difficult times.

Wishing you every solace and blessing,

Rachel HDN