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It's all fine. Thank God. One hears these horror stories but no, fingers crossed...

Ha! Lucky you! We've got absolute bloody Red Code Famished Road Alert going down at Elgin Terrace. I'm not joking.

I mean, we're making cut backs here and there. Obviously. But who isn't, these days?

That's right! We're all broke now, aren't we? It's the new - broke is the new... Hedge fund! Or something. Ha ha. Does that make sense?

Not sure.

Anyway, we've got creditcrunchitis so bad at Elgin Terrace, I'm making my own jam!

Are you really?

I made so much of the stuff, I've had to give half to Isobel. She's sending 40 jars of my mango fig'n'saffron conserve all the way home to the Philippines, bless her! And I've still got another God knows how many pots I don't know what to do with. Perhaps I could palm a few off on - er...

Maria. Sadly Maria's left us. After five wonderful years. She's gone home.

NO! Why?

Well - we thought long and hard. And then we woke up one morning and we thought how liberating it would be to have our house to ourselves again. Now the kids are older... Besides, poor Maria - she hasn't seen her children in three years...

You wonder how they do it...

So - you know. We're very sad, because we adored her. She was one of the family. But we're very happy, too. We're happy for Maria because she gets to see her children; and ecstatically happy for us, as a family, because - well - we're a family again.

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