Dr Biswell and Mr Wil managed to make it up from Manchester on Wednesday, and we have been enjoying the company. Poor Mr Wil is I think under the impression that he has been time-travelling. The chaps went off to Turriff’s Independent Department Store the day before yesterday, because we wanted a couple more sheets and Dr Biswell needed some underwear and generally, TIDS seemed like the place: from their reports, it had made a terrific effort for the festive season and wound up, as far as I can gather, circa 1981 which is at least a change from its usual lurking point of 1973. The Gent’s Natty Outfitting came as a bit of a shock too: brown anoraks, jackets of hard, greyish-green tweed, cavalry twill trousers, the sort of clothes that do not, by and large, happen in Manchester. We all went out on a jolly yesterday — the original theory was that we would go and have a spot of lunch at Kildrummy, where you can sit in a comfy Victorian Scottish Baronial pseudo-castle admiring the fanglike remains of a perfectly genuine one set amid picturesque scenery. This simple plan fell victim to a particularly bloody-minded tractor which crawled up the (double white lines) Aberchirder road at about 5 mph refusing to pull in and let anyone pass. It was the sort of tractor which has neither wing mirrors nor a number plate, and that sort never lets anyone past. So at half past one, we were still a good three quarters of an hour from our destination, and it seemed on the whole wiser to experiment with the unknown delights of Huntly, which was reasonably adjacent. After a bit of misadventure with a broken bridge which delayed matters somewhat, we ended up in a tastelessly comfortable hotel at two minutes to two: the receptionist dashed off and grabbed the chef who was just about to go off shift, and we ended up in a gloomy and otherwise deserted bar with seriously bad panelling in which nothing had apparently changed since the Fifties except for the nice Eastern European barman. The Professor insisted that Mr Wil have that most fifties of drinks, Gin and It, in order to get the full flavour of the experience. We all had something simple, in deference to the fact that the chef had been hoping to get home, and the food when it arrived, quite promptly was well cooked, and the place genial — the proprietor looked in on us, muttering about the dishwasher which was apparently hors de combat, and we were left in peace to take as long as we liked, though it was fairly clear that the place was gearing up for a major New Year’s hooley in the evening. Then we went on to Mossat to visit the perenially gloomy Mrs Sock: actually, my brother had passed that way and told her about Helicopter Funne which is clearly the sort of story she likes because, she was, for her, really quite cheerful. Then we went home and had a quiet evening, and wished each other Happy New Year, which wish we also extend to you.